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ISTE steps up

As you can probably imagine, I was delighted to read Don Knezek’s thoughtful and lengthy reply to Doug Johnson’s query about everything that ISTE was doing to address the technology needs of school leaders (as opposed to teachers and/or students). As someone who has worked with ISTE in several different capacities, including being on the NETS-A advisory board, I have tremendous respect for the work done by Don and his team at ISTE. Don mentioned several ISTE activities of which I wasn’t much aware and highlighted other programs that I knew about and/or in which I have been involved.

As you look over the list of things that ISTE is doing, it is clear that they are doing quite a bit, perhaps as much as any one organization can do. That said, and as Miguel Guhlin noted on his blog, the concern that most administrators still are woefully unprepared to be effective leaders in the area of technology continues to exist at an extremely large and widespread scale.

I noted in my second-ever post on this blog that a variety of entities need to step up to the plate. ISTE can only make so much impact with its programs. Even if ISTE doubled its activity in the leadership arena, the need still would be vast. CoSN is doing some work in this area, as is SETDA and NSBA. Other initiatives include the now-defunct Gates Foundation Leadership Challenge Grants in each state, TICAL, and our own efforts here at CASTLE.

We need state departments and the federal government to realize that leadership is the key and to take concrete steps to address the issue – our society is becoming more technological, not less. We have a moral obligation to prepare students for the world in which they will live. I do not think that we, as a nation, should to continue to let students acquire the majority of their technology skills, knowledge, habits, and beliefs on their own – there is an important and vital role for schools in this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nothing meaningful and sustainable happens without good leadership. This is true in education, in corporations, and in government. We know this, and yet we continue to focus most educational technology initiatives on teachers and students.

It is a little dismaying that the three main national associations that represent school leaders – AASA, NASSP, and NAESP – do little if anything when it comes to addressing the technology needs of principals and superintendents. There are no major technology leadership initiatives coming from these associations – only a few articles and/or conference presentations now and then. Similarly, university educational administration programs are not doing much either. Having the impetus for technology leadership training come from the school boards association and educational technology organizations is not sufficient – we need the buy-in of our major leadership groups and university preparation programs.


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