following on from my post of a couple of days ago abut the impact of digital technologies on learning, this e-book from project RED provides some useful insights into what is working in schools that are using technology effectively. A piece in the introduction puts this in context:
There is a tremendous gulf between schools that are committed to preparing students for success in the 21st century with help from digital technology and those who are still taking a “wait and see” attitude about the role of technology in the classroom. In response, project RED has conducted a survey of technology transformed schools across the country to find out what’s working for them and to show how technology can save money when properly implemented.
What will it take for technology to transform learning and schools, just as it has transformed homes and offices in almost every other segment of our society? In this eBook, Project RED — a national research and advocacy effort — shares preliminary results from a survey of technology-rich schools and takes a look at what past research and current observation tells us about the keys to successful technology implementation.
I found the section on Dynamic Leadership of particular interest, especially this quote on pages 11-121:
“In summarizing several years of research on the impact of Maine’s Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), Dr David Silvernail, director of research for the Maine International Centre for Digital Learning at the University of Southern Maine shares findings about effective leadership:
- There must be a clear strategic vision and plan
- Teachers must receive strong, meaningful and sustained professional development and support
- Technology must be appropriate to the task and focused
- The technology must be used as a learning tool
- Assessments must match learning with technology
- There needs to be clear evaluation and research plans developed early in the initiative.
- It is important to articulate and manage expectations
Nothing particularly new in this list – pretty much mirrors the findings of the research that has been carried out in the NZ context – but these are lessons we should review and be reminded of regularly, in order that we don’t simply revert to taking the “wait and see” attitude referred to in the introduction.
In particular, I would STRONGLY endorse the second bullet point above – the need for strong, meaningful and sustained professional development and support for teachers. At a time when we face financial constraints and cuts are being made, it is easy to “pick off” PD activity as an easily identifiable area to save money – but the impact of this can be devastating, not simply in terms of the effect on individual teachers and their professional growth, but also on our schools as environments within which we nuture young minds and talent.