This is a series of occasional blogs by BESA members and is part of their paid membership service. These views are not necessarily those of BESA and a published blog does not constitute an endorsement.
Today’s educational leaders recognise the role technology can play in helping them deliver their current school strategy (State of technology in Education 2018). But, in reality, EdTech is often not being deployed as effectively as it should be.
One of the main reasons for this (in addition to a backdrop of enforced cost savings) is because – while managing a plethora of competing concerns – many head teachers haven’t made IT a priority. However, when it comes to realising the benefits of technology, in the classroom as in business, it is vital to lead from the top.
Here are just some of the reasons why head teachers would benefit from becoming IT champions.
To create a digital culture
Technology has challenged the way educators have been doing things for years. Understandably, therefore, from some teachers, the response has been one of uncertainty and scepticism.
In the school environment, this is perhaps one of the biggest barriers to IT success. And, for headteachers eager for change, this reticence can be especially frustrating.
But our world is evolving, and if we are to establish practices that prepare children for life beyond the classroom, we must ensure that technology is used better in schools. Moreover, if there is any hope of creating a collective vision, head teachers must lead by example. How can we expect those working in the lower levels of a school to accept the value of technology if they see their leaders treating it as an afterthought?
To tackle this issue, head teachers must create and foster a culture that embraces digital transformation. This means being consistently vocal about their support for technology and the benefits it will bring. By putting any concerns to rest while articulating the rationale for change, hopefully, over time, this will help to turn sceptics into advocates.
To embrace the increasing digitalisation of the world
Schools everywhere are continuing to move towards digitalisation, and discovering how they can best use the tools available to them to do things smarter. This is true at a systems/process level, and (perhaps less widespread) in the classroom during lessons.
But the best leaders recognise that, in just a few years, the technology we all use could look very different from today. So, rather than focusing on specific tools and product features, head teachers should demonstrate the benefits of technology when it comes to achieving educational goals. For example, a recent report states that greater use of EdTech could help close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils.
When it comes to digitalisation, for any head teacher (or anyone thinking about becoming a headteacher fast track) it is important not to get bogged down with the technology itself. Instead, you should demonstrate your understanding of how teaching, leadership and learning can be transformed through EdTech.
To maximise their IT investment
Making sure any technology you invest in is fit for purpose and future-proofed has never been more critical. But, only when you understand the technology available to you, and why it is needed, can you ensure you have the tools necessary to succeed.
Becoming an IT champion means that, in addition to understanding the educational benefits that can be gained through technology, you also adopt a proactive approach to IT investment. This can result in end-benefits such as:
- Maximising the compatibility of all your current EdTech
- Implementing new initiatives that support teaching and learning (e.g. flipped learning, personalised learning, collaborative learning, etc.)
- Facilitating classroom spaces that work as a catalyst for engagement, collaboration, personalisation, and feedback (e.g. a mobile stand allows for the sharing of devices such as an ActivPanel and its adaptation to suit different classroom layouts)
- Maximising online safety and minimising the risk of cyber-attacks in your school
- Delivering cost savings over time by investing for growth. For example, make sure that anything you invest in delivers benefits when it comes to future-proofing (e.g. regular free updates, less need to invest in new hardware, etc.
To help their own careers
Part of a head teacher’s remit is to create conditions that are conducive to learning. Teachers want to do the job at hand, and this means getting rid of anything that stops them from doing that; be that unnecessary paperwork or bad behaviour.
In addition, we have already established that technology can help to raise the bar and close the attainment gap. And, as well as boosting results, one of the best ways to improve a school’s profile is to improve teacher/parent collaboration and communication which can also be supported by technology.
So, in 2018 and beyond, those that want to become great leaders must understand how technology can help teachers and pupils to succeed. What’s more, by recognising how EdTech can support teaching and learning, passionate educators can position themselves as digital trailblazers and accelerate their own careers in the process.
To reap the benefits of digital transformation, it’s vital that head teachers are not only open to change but that they are a genuine player in the process. To find out more about how good digital leadership can develop good outcomes, register to receive regular updates.