October 5, 2011

Exploring the Process of Educational Transformation

iStock Image for EdTechTeacherTechnology now permeates almost every sphere of life and has proven transformative in diverse sectors – from marketing and communications to journalism and political campaigning. Technology also offers new opportunities for student-student and educator-student interactions and new audiences for student-created content. Yet, few educators have experienced the transformative potential of these new tools in their classrooms and few schools are aligned to meet the demands and realities of a 21st century society. Schools systems have spent vast sums equipping their schools with hardware, software, and network infrastructure, but classroom instruction remains essentially unchanged. Most educators continue traditional teacher-centered instructional practices, though today’s society demands a broader and more active approach to developing communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.

We will need new leadership, from classroom teachers, school leaders, and district administrators, to begin to realize the potential of technology in today’s schools. Scaling up our educational system to provide a 21st century education to the growing numbers of college-bound students will be impossible without technology. Technology will play a central role in the instructional core as we approach an era of college-ready standards and assessments. Technology will never completely displace effective modes of traditional instruction, but it will be an essential element. The key ingredient to this successful transition will not be a killer app or the right kinds of fiber-optic cables; it will be educational leadership.

In this new EdTechTeacher blog, Leading Change in Changing Times, we plan to highlight diverse views from educational leaders in and out of the classroom. We hope this space will be a place to discuss an explore the challenges and opportunities of fostering essential 21st century competencies. Our contributing authors will peer into tomorrow’s classrooms to explore powerful conceptual frameworks and sustainable, practical applications for leveraging new technologies. We will also look at issues related to professional learning, school cultures and policies, parent and family communication, infrastructure development, and other dilemmas facing 21st century school leaders.

In all of EdTechTeacher’s work with school leaders, we address four questions central to the process of educational transformation:

  • Why Change? How do you communicate the benefits of 21st century learning and technology integration to diverse stakeholders?
  • What Does Change Look Like? What are the examples and exemplars of 21st century learning environments?
  • How Do We Lead Change? How do we nurture a culture of pedagogical innovation in classrooms, libraries, and other parts of the instructional core?
  • How Do We Assess Change? How do we know whether our technology investments and interventions are improving student learning?

We plan to use these four questions to guide and shape our discussions in the years ahead. We hope to share our own experiences, to bring in outside experts, and to examine the rigorous research regarding technology-rich instruction and professional learning.

Most importantly, we’ll ask you to share your ideas and experiences so that together we build a vision and a path towards thoughtful, effective, and sustained educational change.