Effective technology leadership promotes the development of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure that examines assistive technology (AT), educational technology (EdTech), and information technology (InfoTech) as part of a technology ecosystem. Leadership guides with a collaborative team of diverse stakeholders in the development of a community-wide vision for technology use.
A culture of collaborative leadership shepherds the vision and goals of a district’s balanced and inclusive technology ecosystem. The development of a community-wide vision requires a collaborative leadership team with personnel and community participants that represent the demographics of all students. These individuals play a critical role in developing, communicating and measuring the vision as it is implemented in a local district.
The Center for Inclusive Technology in Education Systems (CITES) has utilized a design-thinking process, in partnership with local districts, to refine a set of leadership practices that enhance the development of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure.
Actions that lead to a shared vision and goals include:
- Engage a leadership team of internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders include district and school administrators, general and special educators, technology personnel, librarians/media specialists, curriculum and instruction specialists, students, and families. External stakeholders include local, regional, and state associations; local and regional organizations (e.g. non-profit, volunteer, business) that support students with disabilities and their families.
- Create a shared vision and identifying goals that align with the vision of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure.
- Communicate the shared vision and goals in ways that promote a positive learning climate and culture, foster collaborative relationships, and model accessible and inclusive technology practices.
Building Community-Wide Vision through Meaningful Engagement & Collaboration
Poway Unified School District (San Diego, California)
Poway Unified School District serves approximately 36,500 students in San Diego, California. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the district developed a 3-year strategic plan for technology based on the Future Ready Framework. In order to build a community-wide vision and shared goals for technology, district leaders knew that they would need early and meaningful engagement with stakeholders to create opportunities for improved collaboration, both internally and externally. Early in the development of the plan, the leadership team invited stakeholders from across the district to participate in the planning process. A total of 55 district stakeholders were engaged, including teachers, parents, students, community members, and school board members. Through multiple meetings with stakeholders over the course of approximately six months, the district planning team was able to build a vision for technology that reflected the goals of the community.
This shared vision and a culture of collaboration further supported Poway as they moved from planning to the implementation of technology initiatives and programs. Regular meetings between district-level leaders from information technology, assistive technology (AT), and the Technology and Innovation department (EdTech), ensure that staff collaborates to address challenges specific to the use of assistive technology, as well as other technologies that support the needs of students with disabilities. The three departments working together have streamlined technology integration and improved efficiency in the delivery of support for teachers and students. Prior to this collaborative shift, many existing technology tools and supports were underutilized, and AT staff were frequently inundated with requests for support with technology tools. Working from a shared commitment to equitable learning opportunities for every student, the three departments collaborate to identify existing resources that provide needed supports and to provide training for teachers on the accessible technology supports available in the classroom.
Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA: A Handbook for LEA and School Leaders (Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Partners for Each and Every Child)
4 Ways That Leadership Teams Create Conditions for Success in Schools (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
So You Think You Want to Innovate? Emerging Lessons and a New Tool for State and District Leaders Working to Build a Culture of Innovation (2Revolutions and The Learning Accelerator)
Anderson, M. (2017). Transformational leadership in education: A review of existing literature. International Social Science Review, 93(1), 4.
This article discusses the relevant research insights on the changing environments of schools and school systems, specifically how the quality of leadership styles is proven to facilitate overall organizational performance. Transformational leadership is characterized by a leader who works with subordinates to identify needed change and create a community wide vision to guide the change through inspiration.
Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M., Wallace, F., Burns, B., ... & Chambers, D. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature.
This foundational article describes the state of implementation science through a synthesis of literature from a variety of fields, including education. The research indicates that thoughtful and effective implementation strategies are essential to any systematic attempt to use the products of science to improve the lives of children, families, and adults.