Rethinking Technology Leadership

Well, I've really enjoyed this week of guest blogging.  As an academic whose professional livelihood requires writing according to lots of strict formatting and content guidelines, I find a lot of freedom in the blogging form.  Thank you, Scott, for giving me this opportunity.


I was going to go for the trifecta and write about technology through another popular non-fiction book, but I decided to just attach a copy of an article I had published last year.  In that article, I make reference to Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone.  In particular, I argue that the Internet, as an embodiment of multiple forms of computer-mediated communications, is a space with properties that correlate with necessary attributes of community.  I won't go on...it's all there in the article. (Download 04300_06_becker.pdf)

So, instead of my Bowling Alone/Internet/community argument, for my final post I just want to offer some of my latest musings on the the intersection of educational technology and school leadership.  As Scott has mentioned, there are a handful of professors of educational leadership who think deeply about technology issues.  I have the good fortune of knowing and working with these folks.  We meet at conferences and whenever Scott pays for us to come together (hehe).  One of the topics we discuss regularly is the notion of "technology leadership."  We ponder questions such as: "what is technology leadership?...How, if at all, is it different than other forms of educational leadership?...If school leaders don't understand technology issues, is technology leadership then just a matter of good distributed leadership?...etc., etc." 

These days, however, I'm thinking those lines of inquiry are misguided.  I think by naming and wondering about this thing called "technology leadership" we may be guilty of doing the sort of labeling and boxing-in that I argue vehemently against in so many other aspects of education.  To suggest that "technology leadership" is a separate leadership domain could set us down a bad path.  A fair analogy would be the world of special education.  In our doctoral program, a critical mass of our students work in an administrative capacity in the field of special education.  At a recent colloquium, many of those students voiced their concerns and displeasure about being treated as a separate entity from general education.  Furthermore, such treatment allowed the general education leaders (particularly the superintendents and building principals) to perform what they thought was distributed leadership but what was probably better characterized as passing the buck.  These special ed. leaders felt strongly that many of the problems they face would be alleviated if the general education leaders knew more about and were more actively involved in special education.

I think some of my colleagues may disagree with what I just wrote, but that could lead to a healthy dialog.  Regardless, given what I wrote, my focus this year is in figuring out how to reach out to a general education leadership audience.  I think we need to think about ways to infuse our existing leadership preparation programs with technology issues.  So, when we talk about supervision and observation, we need to mention mVal and other technology-based models.  In the school law classes, we must address technology-related issues such as data privacy, Internet safety, etc.  When students discuss community engagement, they need to know about the power of computer-mediated communications.  And on and on...

Thanks again, Scott, and to bring this post full-circle, I know that this blog will grow into a vibrant and healthy community.  I'm glad I'm a part of it.

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