Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mission: Engage, Then Empower . . . Superintendents!

I admit that I'm not a huge fan of the reports or mandates that come out of the Dept. of Ed., but I've been spending more time giving the national tech plan a closer look, perhaps hoping to find something that I can relate to. I have to reluctantly admit that I'm captivated by it.

It's easy to navigate, it has some depth and thoughtfulness, and Karen Cator has edtech credibility and educational authority. I know there is some criticism, but as I drill down into the document, I am less wary of it.

Take this graphic for example, which outlines a student-centered environment enhanced by digital-age tools. I love it. It's blended,  is multi-layered, and accounts for the "alternating current" of learning and teaching that should ideally characterize an environment of powerful learning and teaching. To fully understand this graphic, however, requires some background knowledge of edtech. Almost all of my colleagues would struggle with understanding the features that typify a personal learning network, or understanding how twitter hashtags and social bookmarking define the ways that peers digitally connect around common interests, or understanding how social networking augments our opportunities to access expertise and authoritative sources.

I've said  before that superintendents need to "get it" before we can "lead it," and I'll take this opportunity to say it again. To achieve the goals embedded in this graphic, superintendents need systematic edtech programming to support their development in using and understanding the tools so that they can better understand the urgency of the initiative and better lead the reform.

Whether it's centralized education service agencies, state departments of education, curriculum-ed. leadership-education associations, or the federal Dept. of Ed., a movement needs to begin. The standards are written (the what), and the format has been expertly set in motion (the how). Let's engage, and then let's empower.

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