Educational technology has long been considered a subset among a host of education topics. That’s no longer the case, says educator Mark Gura, who believes a powerful reversal is happening – a reversal that’s creating a new reality in schools worldwide. |
That reality – edtech is education.
“Virtually everything done in schools can be done with technology, and most of it will be done with technology. Every school will need one or more digital change agents – staff members who guide colleagues into this new situation,” Gura said.
At the same time, many educators who support colleagues in thoughtful edtech integration (technology teachers, tech coaches/specialists and library media specialists) were trained under the old way of thinking, the subset mentality, and not on the totality of the platform on which schools and their work is now being done.
In the new reality, these educators are charged with acting as digital change agents who lead the shift toward digital age environments as technology becomes ubiquitous in our schools.
But how? And what are the steps toward becoming a digital change agent?
“One of the things digital change agents will have to do is change perspective and see themselves as advisers and explainers. These people do much for schools in establishing and supporting a school’s tech program but haven’t had the opportunity to prepare for a wholesale shift to technology throughout the school’s instructional and administrative program.”
Here are Gura’s tips to digital change agents for making that shift:
To achieve true digital change agent status, educators need to reinvent themselves as effective learners who capture a great body of ideas and developments and look for trends and patterns that will be coming into play in schools.
Connect colleagues to opportunities to learn.
Now that you’re walking the walk as a change agent, it’s time to encourage others to see professional development as frequent, ongoing and self-selected. Gura points to webinars, edchats, edcamps and technology fairs as helpful venues for quickly getting up to speed. Point colleagues to the reliable resources that have worked for you.
See, understand and communicate.
As a change agent, you comprehend the transformative nature of technology for education. Now’s the time to share the big picture and describe what it can mean for students, teachers and school communities. Be the expert and share your knowledge.
Go big with a tech vision.
Establish a tech-use vision aligned to the school’s general vision and formulate an action plan to make that vision a reality. The act of doing this is as important as the product, Gura contends, and is critical to ensuring the success of a large-scale change effort.
The ISTE Essential Conditions call for proactive leadership in developing a shared vision for educational technology among all stakeholders. A shared vision arises from the collaborative voices, goals and values of the educators, support staff, students, parents and community members within the system. All stakeholders provide input for the vision and understand how it impacts them and how to apply it within their individual roles.
Create a community.
Change agents should be inspiring and give colleagues a glimpse of what’s to come. Even those educators who are not yet fully invested in tech’s role in education are curious and looking for an opportunity to reverse their position. Open that door, create a tech-use community within the overall school community and invite everyone to participate in the exciting shift.
An educator for more than three decades, Mark Gura works with Touro College, Fordham University and other organizations to promote the use of technology to provide highly motivating, relevant activities for students. Gura is the author of the ISTE books Make, Learn, Succeed and Getting Started with LEGO Robotics, and is the editor of Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age.
Learn more about how to lead change in your school and get tips for the best resources to do so in Gura’s new ISTE book, The Edtech Advocate’s Guide to Leading Change in Schools.