States need to step up
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
One of the most important issues in K-12 technology right now is the lack of engagement of administrators who are in formal positions of authority. For example, you can go to any educational technology conference in the country - NECC, CoSN, NSBA T+L, any state or regional conference - and the percentage of administrators in attendance is usually abysmally low. As I said in my previous post, without significant involvement by the individuals who have the power to make decisions, set organizational priorities, spend money, assign personnel, coordinate activities, initiate staff training, etc., the long-term prospects of technology in schools remain extremely dismal. Schools' marginalization of technology as a non-essential activity, in contrast to every other sector of society, occurs because their leaders allow and facilitate it.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation State Challenge Grants for Leadership Development have been the only large-scale administrator technology training initiative to date. These grants were a good start. They were wildly successful from a coverage perspective - 75% to 100% of administrators in every state received some kind of technology training (as well as some participation incentive like a laptop or handheld computer). Many, if not most, of the participants came away from their training not only more knowledgeable but also energized about the potential and promise of technology. Unfortunately...
- The depth of administrators' involvement was very shallow. In nearly every state, administrators received a maximum of three to six days of training, typically over the course of a single year.
As a result, the $250 million initiative (half from the foundation, half from the states) made a big splash, got some good media attention, and then fizzled out in terms of long-term sustainability and impact.
It is time for our states to step up. Every state wants to graduate students who can be part of the creative, digital workforce of the future. One way to ensure that this happens is to quit relying primarily on school districts to train administrators in the technology arena because it is quite clear that they're not doing so. We have a few notable school districts that are providing substantive technology-related training opportunities for their administrators (see, e.g., the ISTE / Chicago Public Schools' Principal Technology Leadership Institutes). Most school districts are not, however, and we all will pay the price of states' reliance on the variable patchwork of district-level initiatives.
SETDA, where is your programming for principals and superintendents (both current and future)? CoSN? ISTE? Corporations? Educational leadership associations (NSBA, AASA, NASSP, NAESP)? Others? Where's the recognition that administrators, not students or teachers, hold the keys to making this technology stuff happen successfully? Does anyone not believe that technology is only going to become even more important than it already is?
A new study shows choosing to be active is a lot of work for our brains. Here are some ways to make it easier.
There's no shortage of science suggesting that exercise is good for your mental as well as your physical health — and yet for many of us, incorporating exercise into our daily routines remains a struggle. A new study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, asks why. Shouldn't it be easier to take on a habit that is so good for us?
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.