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Know the ISTE Standards for Administrators: What does the research say?

By Helen Crompton 1/7/2015 Leadership Professional learning

ISTE Standards for Administrators 3: Educational administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.

Using technology in the classroom is no longer a novelty. Students worldwide routinely use digital applications as part of their learning experiences. However, it is crucial to recognize that technology is only a tool. It is how we employ it that permits truly exceptional learning experiences to happen.

If you are an administrator who wants to promote the effective use of technology in your school or district, you must provide valuable and ongoing training in not only how to use the tools, but how to implement them effectively into the curriculum. The instructional content — the subject matter, skills and understanding the students are expected to learn from the lesson — should be the teachers’ top priority. Once they have defined the educational material , they can determine the best i nstructional approach and technologies for helping students learn that content.

What’s the administrator’s role in all this? To provide effective training and support, a progressive administrator must stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends in the effective use of technology. A recent trend that’s showing promise in the research is using the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition (SAMR) model developed by Ruben Puentedura in 2010. This framework describes the level of technology integration within an activity. Substitution, the lowest level, refers to using technology in a simple way to achieve the same results as traditional teaching activities without technology. At the other end of the continuum, redefinition describes activities where technology enhances student learning in ways that would not be possible without the use of that technology.

The table below describes three approaches to ISTE Standard-A 3. While these examples refer to school principals, they could apply to administrators at any level.

Standard 3: Excellence in professional practice

Educational administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.

Approach 1: This principal has decided that technology training is not needed at this time and that no further action is needed. Approach 2: This principal has determined that technology training is due for the educators in his school. He hires an outside trainer to provide general technology training. He also provides time for teachers to attend the training. Approach 3: This principal has been following the research and is implementing a SAMR focus on technology use. She provides SAMR training to all the educators in the building and gives them time to work in teams to peer-review lessons using the framework. The principal creates a SAMR wiki page where educators can post exemplar lessons and share other tips and ideas. She also models the SAMR approach in the faculty’s duties at school and with the wider community.
a. Allocate time, resources and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration. Absent: This indicator is not evident in this approach. Addressed: The principal provides generic technology training and time for educators to participate. Addressed: The principal provides training, time to participate and a supportive peer review process.
b. Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty and staff in the study and use of technology. Absent: This indicator is not evident in this approach. Partially addressed: It could be argued that the training may be a learning community for that day or hour. Addressed: Both the supportive peer-review groups and the SAMR wiki are learning communities related to this initiative.
c. Promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital age tools. Absent: This indicator is not evident in this approach. Absent: This indicator is not evident in this approach. Addressed: The SAMR modeling within the school and wider community, as well as the SAMR wiki, promote communication and collaboration. The principal also models the approach with stakeholders at school and in the community.
d. Stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends regarding effective use of technology and encourage evaluation of new technologies for their potential to improve student learning. Absent: This indicator is not evident in this approach. Absent: It does not appear that this administrator is following the research. Addressed: The principal learned about the SAMR framework from recent educational research and is using it to evaluate technology’s potential to improve student learning before making technology purchases.

In the first approach, the principal does not consider technology training and development necessary or important. In failing to do so, the principal is not promoting an environment of professional learning and innovation to empower educators to enhance student learning through infusion of contemporary technologies. This approach does not meet any of the indicators in this standard.

In Approach 2, the principal understands that the educators in his school require some technology training, given the lack of any recent professional development in this domain. He hires a n outside trainer to provide general technology training. Unfortunately, general training may not be what is needed at this school. While outside trainers can be excellent, they need to know the current skill level of the staff and the goals of the tech implementation if they are to tailor their training appropriately. Therefore, the administrator should provide a detailed account of what is needed or allow the trainer to send out a questionnaire to gain that information. The principal has provided the training, however, as well as the time for teachers to participate, which does meet the basic description of indicator a. You could also argue that indicator b is partially met, as a face-to-face learning community could be developed for the training. Ideally, though, the learning community should extend well beyond a day and be woven into everyday life at the school.

In Approach 3, the principal has remained abreast of current educational research and emerging trends in the effective use of technology. Based on what she learned, she has considered the use of technology within her school and how technology can redefine the way teachers teach. Following the recommendations in the research, she has implemented not only technology training, but also a peer- review network and a wiki to support teachers as they make the difficult transition to new ways of teaching with technology. The wiki provides the educators with a place to give and receive support during their learning journey, including sharing exemplar lesson plans on the wiki. In addition, this principal models the SAMR redefinition activities by facilitating an educational environment and experience that cannot happen without the explicit use of technology.

Ready to start planning a tech integration initiative in your district? Don’t go it alone. Join the Lead & Transform movement for tips, resources and guidance from experts in the field.

Acknowledgment

Susan Herrington Kidd, an education graduate student at Old Dominion University, Virginia, assisted in writing this article.

Helen Crompton is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She is a researcher and educator in the field of instructional technology. She earned her Ph.D. in educational technology and mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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