MyNotes - Tech Implementation Study for Superintendents
The following notes come from the June 2014 School Administrator magazine which feature an abstract of a 2013 doctoral study by Dr. Sharon M. Biggs. You can find it on page 39 of School Administrator. The full doctoral study can be found online.
Some quick reflections:
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Some quick reflections:
- I very much enjoyed Dr. Biggs' literature review, and the points made about first-order and second-order change. As a Technology Director, first-order changes (technical in nature) appear the easiest place to show growth quickly. Second-order changes (changing teacher attitudes about blending technology into instruction) are the hard part.
- Some of the important findings or conclusions included these,which I wholeheartedly agree with and I would encourage technology directors to apply to themselves, not just their superintendents (or help the super to "get it"):
- Provide leadership based on technology plans.
- Conduct frequent needs assessments to ensure currency and sustainability
- Develop committees of stakeholders that can help with technology planning
- the need for superintendents to be empathetic and understanding that systemic change can cause high levels of anxiety for some people, therefore, a portion of stakeholders will "get on the train kicking and fighting." The superintendents agreed that they must still make hard decisions about technology implementation based on what is best for their students, despite knowing there might be pockets of staff and community members who oppose and try to sabotage plans for technology implementation.
- It is important for superintendents to take time to learn and understand the history, culture, and dynamics of their school districts before deploying technology plans.
- 2013 doctoral study at Seton Hall University explored common barriers superintendents face that influence their district technology leadership.
- The findings included the following:
- lack of sufficient financial and technology resources
- resistance by stakeholders to change their traditional and/or date district cultures and mindsets about integrating technology in 21st-century classrooms
- The purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of superintendents' beliefs about technology leadership barriers and about how superintendents engage in technology leadership practices.
- Superintendents understand their critical technology leadership roles and they try to remain actively engaged and involved through-out the different phases of technology implementation.
- The following notes come from the doctoral study itself:
- The federal government provided a compelling argument about technology being an essential ingredient of economic growth and job creation (U.S. Department ofEducation, 2006).
- Some researchers believe superintendents are key driving forces behind the technological development of American students. Others argue that technologically developed students are essential if we want to have a technologically advanced America.
- Houston (2001, p. 429) explained that superintendents are aware they "can change the trajectory of children's lives, alter the behavior of organizations, and expand the possibilities ofwhole communities." This statement supports the idea that superintendents are considered the primary leaders of transformational and adaptive (Heifetz, Grashow & Linsky, 2009) technological development within school districts.
- Gibson (2001, p. S02) said "the number one issue in the effective integration of educational technology into the learning environment is not the preparation of teachers for technology usage but the presence of informed and effective leadership ....
- Valdez (2004) claims district leaders need to "know and utilize instructional technology ... (1) to prepare students to function in an information-based, Internet-using society; (2) to make students competent in using tools found in almost all work areas; and (3) to make education more effective and efficient"
- Abrams and Russell (2004) found that 93.4% of the principals they surveyed placed heavy importance on technology implementation, however, only 40.5% of the respondents indicated they were successfully implementing technology in their schools.
- Despite the existence of potential technology leadership barriers, school leaders believe technology implementation is important, and they engage in efforts to effectively lead technology implementation in schools.
- According to Ausband (2006, p. 16), there are district-level barriers that hinder technology integration, and those barriers can influence the technology leadership practices and behaviors of district superintendents.
- The role of superintendents as instructional leaders is to inspire other district stakeholders to create a systemic shared vision for transformational technology implementation. This involves the consistent engagement with and communication about the integration and implementation processes.
- Superintendents should also form. collaborative strategic plans for developing student technology literacy since they are the key technology vision-setting leaders in districts.
- Superintendents are now required to posture themselves as student learning advocates at the local, state, and national levels to garner resources to help support technology implementation that can impact technology integration and usage in their districts (iste.org, 2012).
- Instructional leaders must consistently promote technology-based professional learning communities to help improve instructional practices at the classroom level.
- leaders should facilitate and participate in technology-driven learning communities and study groups, use digital tools to model effective communication and collaboration, stay current on educational research about new technologies, and be well versed regarding technology implementation benchmarks (iste.org, 2012).
- District leaders are expected to recruit, hire, and retain technologically literate and proficient staffs that effectively use technology resources and tools to advance the operational and academic vision and mission of the district.
- there is an expectation American superintendents will provide district technology leadership that will help develop student technology literacy skills.
- district superintendents must now remain actively engaged during the processes of technology access, implementation, integratio~ and literacy development so they can hold principals and teachers accountable at the building level (Lim & Khine, 2006)
- Changing teachers' attitudes and beliefs, and teachers' knowledge and skills require second-order change efforts because the areas are reflective of ingrained cultural norms.
- Many of our administrators are novice technology users and have gained little experience or training in the knowledge and skills needed to be effective leaders. Even though administrators understand the importance of implementing and supporting technology use...the development of technology leadership skills seems to be left to chance.
- School boards of education sometimes sign off on district technology spending before ensuring that superintendents fully understand the first-order change (infrastructure and hardware) and second-order change (shifts in mindsets, practices, and district cultures) implications the technology implementation and integration can have on an entire school system.
- The superintendent's own level of technology proficiency and beliefs about technology implementation can influence how effectively he or she overcomes first-order and second-order technology leadership barriers.
- Superintendents must "identify their own technological skills and address their needs with training" (Braswell & Childress, 2001, pp. 473-474).
- theory of"deliverology:"
- Develop a foundation for delivery -
- a) Define an aspiration, which includes setting measurable goals;
- b) Review the current state ofdelivery, which involves conducting a needs assessment;
- c) Build the delivery unit, which fosters the idea of building the capacity of a group of implementation vanguards who will help push forward the implementation initiative, and
- d) Establish a guiding coalition that can remove barriers to change, influence and support the unit's work at crucial moments, and provide counsel and advice; which involves developing a coalition ofdiverse stakeholders who will assist with the change effort
- Understand the delivery challenge -
- a) Evaluate past and present performance, which involves bridging past practices with current target goals; and
- b) Understand drivers of performance and relevant systems activities, which includes helping stakeholders understand the impact of variables that can drive student learning.
- Plan for delivery -
- a) Determine your reform strategy, which involves developing a collaborative and fluid strategic plan for implementation;
- b) Set targets and trajectories, which includes setting realistic and measurable success targets for different groups affected by the implementation, and
- c) Produce delivery plans, which entails developing plans that are works in progress
- Drive delivery
- a) Establish routines to drive and monitor performance, which includes clearly defining roles and responsibilities;
- b) Solve problems early and rigorously, when involves dealing with issues as soon as they occur, and
- c) Sustain and continually build momentum, which includes persisting through implementation and not getting side-tracked by barriers.
- a superintendent's embrace of a technology implementation initiative is not necessarily a guarantee that all other stakeholders within a district community will immediately or ever embrace the technology implementation initiative.
- Weick (1982) might say that superintendents who lead technology implementation initiatives stand the risk ofbeing ineffective ifthey attempt to treat school districts as "tightly coupled systems" where everyone acts upon an initiative the same way, at the same time, and from the same vantage point; similar to what one might see in a factory assembly line or departmentalized business (faylor, 1911). Thus, superintendents might need to accept the reality that school districts are loosely coupled as they attempt to overcome technology leadership barriers during implementation.
- Superintendents as adaptive leaders must build bridges between existing ways of doing things and thinking (first-order change) and new required ways ofthin king and doing things (second-order change).
- Superintendents might face first-order change and second-order change barriers that can interrupt well laid out intentions and plans for leading adaptive and sustainable technology initiatives.
- First-order changes tend to be of a technical nature and the keen adaptive leader should work toward bridging the gap between existing approaches and new approaches.
- Second order changes have to do with attitudes, beliefs, values, and cultural norms; and can present bigger challenges to the superintendent who is expected to lead adaptive technology implementation in a district.
- superintendents who want to effectively lead second-order technology implementation changes should:
- (a) deliberately orchestrate ongoing collaborative conversations about the implementation process;
- (b) avoid relying on absolutes during the process and foster an environment of experimentation;
- (c) encourage the acceptance ofdiverse technology platforms, proficiency levels, values and opinions about technology;
- (d) stick with implementation plans that work and toss plans that peter out, and
- (e) recognize the association between technical problems and solutions and adaptive challenges and solutions, but be able to distinguish between the two.
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