School leaders today find themselves in one of the most complex environments that our educational systems have ever faced. Swimming in a sea of nearly endless digital possibilities, they know that a quality education for our nation’s most precious resource hangs in the balance.
Fortunately, we are also living in an era of unprecedented learning and sharing that can allow us all to learn from one another in ways that have not existed previously. Just like our students, we educators are no longer bound by the four walls of the schoolhouse, district, state or even international boundaries – in most cases.
The good news is that many school districts are embracing these technological complexities with a heightened level of systemic planning and a true focus on the “why” of these innovations when it comes to improved educational outcomes.
Technology alone will not improve outcomes for our students. As I said in a previous ConnectIT post, without a great educator in the classroom, a PC is nothing more than an expensive paperweight. Technology is only one facet of the overall design of a sound educational program. Sound instructional design and leadership are also needed to drive this systemic change in our learning institutions.
In my work with and in schools over the past 19 years, as crazy as it sounds, I’ve found the technology to be the easy part. Much like a shopping list, hardware, software and even services are commodities that can be bought.
However, when working with schools today, it is the transformations that are occurring around teaching and learning that are most complex and time-consuming. While digital curriculum and content can be game changers for schools, the distribution of these materials brings new complexities that will require thoughtful planning to ensure a maximum return on education.
Once these complexities are handled in a student-centered manner, differentiated training and professional development for teachers must be added to the plan. When all these elements come together, the students win. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. In most cases, it can take several years to get technology, people and processes correct.
My hope is that if your school or district is embracing technology and its impact on students, you leave no stone unturned in your quest for your “why” and for improved student outcomes.
This article is part of the “Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.