Month: May 2017

Module 9: Problem Solving from a Leadership Perspective

In a large school, differing priorities and perspectives can become challenges and it is hard to develop and maintain the ‘shared schema’ recommended by Bain and Weston (2013). Encouraging colleagues to access available professional learning and to try new pedagogies with technology can also be frustrations. However, one element of our college infrastructure that I think impedes progress and limits opportunity to develop and implement a shared schema is our building design, with silo-oriented staff rooms and traditional classroom spaces. Whilst Flanagan & Jacobsen (2003) do not note attention to physical space as a barrier or recommendation, I think it is a factor that affects, pedagogy and professional development – two of the four identified barriers (Flanagan and Jacobsen, 2003).

 

My first Masters unit was ‘Designing Spaces for Learning’ (INF536) with Ewan McIntosh. Through this unit I realised the potential difficulty of leading change in a school where the spaces provide teachers with little vision outside of their historical classroom experience (Woolner, McCarter, Wall and Higgins, 2011); through their limitation, the majority of senior school spaces reflect and encourage tradition practice. For example, I teach a collaborative, practical subject in a room packed with rows of desks that are too heavy to move. Other rooms are so small, teachers cannot move between students. The nature of the school environment set into the landscape, does not lend itself to open doors, visible practice and visiting colleagues. The school buildings cover a large area and therefore little interaction occurs between staff rooms due to the physical geography.

 

This aspect may be a tangent from the central foci of our readings, however it is a considerable constraint limiting access to informal learning through classroom observation, the exploration of flexible teaching strategies and the development of a shared vision (Bain and Weston, 2013; Petersen, 2014).

 

In terms of a response, planning for retrofitting of spaces could be a useful strategic direction; this is an aspect convincingly advocated by Terry Byers in a recent Design and Play podcast (Brophy and Pearman, 2017). Considering creative solutions for enabling classroom observation within a structured community of practice could have a positive impact on shared professional learning (Muhammad, 2009). Developing further ways of encouraging transdisciplinary learning and interaction between silos could also help to move the school out of what is largely an ‘introverted’ silo-oriented culture (Hadjithoma-Garstka, 2011).

 

References

Brophy, S., & Pearman, D.(2017). Design and play: Episode 4. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ep-4-interview-with-terry-byers/id1207005111?i=1000383119856&mt=2

Flanagan, L. & Jacobsen, M. (2003),”Technology leadership for the twenty-first century principal”. Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 41, 2. pp. 124 – 142.

Hadjithoma-Garstka, C. (2011). The role of the principal’s leadership style in the implementation of ICT policy. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 42(2), 311-326. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01014.x

Muhammad, A. (2009). Transforming school culture: How to overcome staff division.Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Australia.

Petersen, A. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of principals’ ICT leadership. Contemporary Educational Technology, Vol.5(4), pp.302-315 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Woolner, P. McCarter, S. Wall, K. Higgins, S. (2011). Changed learning through changed space: When can a participatory approach to the learning environment challenge preconceptions and alter practice? Paper presented at AERA 2011. Retrieved from http://www.ncl.ac.uk/cflat/news/documents/AERAWoolnerMcCarter.pdf

Module 8 – Macro, Meso, Micro

The catholic and independent schools where I have worked have enjoyed significant self-governance in regards to big decisions about ICT funding and integration. In some cases, this has allowed future-focused initiatives, unimpeded by systemic barriers; however, in others, the lack of connection and conversation has retained the status quo, hampered by lack of vision and fear of risk. Whilst the schools in my area do not have the long histories and traditions that schools elsewhere have, I have seen the impact of existing school culture in stifling ICT integration and shifts in pedagogy (Muhammad, 2009). As this flexibility to operate autonomously can be a benefit and a deficit, many areas of concern that I have observed relate to the micro level (Younie, 2006).

 

I think the implementation of the Australian Curriculum, Digital Technologies (ACARA, 2017) provides an impetus for change initiated from the macro level (Younie, 2006) – the curriculum is mandated and has driven movement for effective learning with technology to be formally included. Whilst the silo implementation of  the Digital Technologies curriculum may concern some practitioners (see this article found on LinkedIn – Moule, 2017; Voogt and Pelgrum, 2005), I think we will see a flow-on effect from student learning. Where digital technology is explicitly taught through the curriculum, students are likely to apply their learning (technology and soft skills) to other areas of their study more effectively. I also think this macro factor will support and frame discussions for the micro level document on which my assignment will focus.

 

Networks between the schools for teachers to consider infrastructure and practice at a grass roots level are relatively new initiatives that are helping to forge a transition in schools in my area, supporting meso level progress (Younie, 2006). These have largely been spurred by professional learning opportunities initiated at the meso (ICT Teachers’ Association) and macro (ACARA) levels. For these reasons, I think in my local area, the macro and meso level operations driven by the Digital Technologies curriculum are helpful in scaffolding processes and planning in the micro environment.

 

References

ACARA (2017). Australian curriculum: Digital technologies. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/digital-technologies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1

Moule, R. (2017). LinkedIn untitled post. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6263667463502856192/

Voogt, J. & Pelgrum, H. (2005). ICT and Curriculum Change. Human Technology, Volume 1 (2), pp. 157-175.

Younie, S. (2006). Implementing government policy on ICT in education: Lessons learnt. Education & Information Technologies, 11(3/4), 385-400. doi:10.1007/s10639-006-9017-1

http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/CSU:CSU_ALL:TN_springer_jour10.1007/s10639-006-9017-1

Module 7 – Curriculum Development

The Proctor et. al article looks at one way of measuring the way ICT has been integrated into the curriculum in schools. In your organisation/school do you have a way of assessing the degree to which you are integrating ICT into your classrooms? Do you measure the impact of the use of ICT in your organisation? If you don’t, why not? If you do, what instrument, tool, or prcess do you use?

In recent years, considerable work has been done to track the use of ICT in classrooms and to determine its impact in my school; often an informal process, there are some measures in place and planned to provide a more data-based analysis of ICT use and the impact on teaching and learning.

The Australian Curriculum General Capabilities (ACARA 2016) has provided a scaffold against which to measure use of ICT and department areas have collated the what, where, who, how and why of their ICT integration. This information has been mapped, outlining how ICT is used across the large school. The General Capabilities also serve to remind teachers that integration of ICT needs a learning focus and encourages considered use against curriculum standards (Proctor, Watson and Finger 2003). The mapping documentation will need to be reviewed regularly and could be a shared, live document so that the community see it is a flexible, fluid space where exploring new initiatives is desired.

We are currently preparing a survey for departments in the senior school to seek feedback on the professional learning provided this year, as well as the perceived needs of our staff community to inform next steps for professional learning.

The Voogt & Pegrum article looks at the ways in which ICT integration has changed the curriculum in a number of schools. Their conclusions are interesting. To what extent to their findings mirror your own school or organisations experiences?

Voogt and Pegrum found evidence that formative assessment practices have increased due to technology integration. In my school, the inclusion of more extensive formative assessment practices is increasing. An example of this in practice has come with the integration of OneNote Class Notebooks across most department areas, as it has enabled teachers to see and provide feedback on their students’ work at anytime.

I think the finding that innovative practice is not crossing the school boundary (Voogt and Pegrum, 2005) may now be dated. Whist my particular context is not trail-blazing this innovation, there are teachers making good use of social media and Skype to connect with experts and engaging in collaborative programs with external experts.

Mishra and Koehler (2006) and Wellington (2005) outlined that effective implementation of technology for learning requires more than isolated, narrow use of ICT; Voogt and Pegrum also advocate a broad, rather than focused integration. They indicate that such findings may influence decisions against computer literacy as a separate subject (2005). This is an interesting point with the implementation of Digital Technologies Curriculum across Australian schools this year.

I think that the requirements of the Digital Technology curriculum serve to deepen the use of ICT beyond the superficial. The Digital Technology Hub published and circulated a useful infographic, outlining differences in practice between the ICT General Capabilities and Digital Technology, which I find helpful to consider ways in which ICT may be integrated into using the curriculum as opposed to, or alongside the capabilities.

 

References

ACARA. (2016). Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/overview/introduction

Digital Technologies Hub. (2017). What’s the difference between ICT capability and digital technologies [infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.digitaltechnologieshub.edu.au/teachers/australian-curriculum/ict-vs-digital-technologies

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Proctor, R., Watson, G. and Finger, G. (2003). Measuring information and communication technology (ICT) curriculum integration. Computers in the Schools, 20(4): 67–87.

Voogt, J. & Pelgrum, H. (2005). ICT and Curriculum Change. Human Technology, Volume 1 (2), pp. 157-175.

Wellington, J. (2005). Has ICT come of age? Recurring debates on the role of ICT in education 1982-2004. Research In Science & Technological Education, 23(1), 25-39.

Module 6 – Educational ICT leadership and decision making

As a large PreK to Year 12 college, the ICT roles in my school are owned my a number of staff members, each with a different focus. My role is not a formal leadership role, although I have the opportunity to peer-lead colleagues in their integration of technology. Devolder, Vanderlinde, van Braak and Tondeur (2010)argue “that schools need a facilitator or a change agent”. Led by the Director for Digital Learning and Innovation, Tech Coaches at my school are largely able to lead a learning-focused use of technology as there is a substantial IT Support team to respond to technical issues. Whether multiple roles help or hinder planning and use of ICT is highly context specific and often affected by personalities and agendas; it is also dependent on the leadership management of ICT support teams as inferred by Stuart and Mills (2009). On the whole, staff in my college context are altruistic and collegial and this helps to create a collaborative environment that is not impeded by the challenges of ‘too many cooks’. 

The 2012 Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development eLearning planning resource provides a useful structure for assessing the current situation for ICT integration. We recently became an Apple Distinguished School and in this process, had the opportunity to access our college use of technology against a scaffold of integration in a range from ‘Developing’ to ‘Transformative’. This has helped to define the level at which we are currently functioning as well as where we aspire to. Such a structure helps to formulate a common direction and keep staff on a consistent and focused trajectory. 

I found the Stuart and Mills, “School leaders, ICT competence and championing innovations” article relevant and inspiring. I feel fortunate to be part of an organisation that values a designated role for ICT champions and this is essentially what I am employed to be. I have worked in other schools where my interest in ICT integration was valued, but the time commitment and focused role were not possible/considered necessary.

In  my role, staying up to date and responding to change are critical. My online PLN, engagement with peers on Twitter and university connections have been central to my work in recent years. I think responding critically to new technology and evaluating developments with a pedagogical framework is imperative. Online Professional Learning Networks help us to ascertain the potential successes and pitfalls of new technology integration. We also test new technologies with staff ‘champions’ (Stuart and Mills, 2009) who are competent with the purpose and function of the technology before roll out to the full staff. As I read Start and Mills’ (2009) article, I could envision ways that we could embrace the ICT Champion concept across department areas and with Community of Practice teams further in our organisation to support and assist our colleagues in their ICT integration. 

On a related note, a colleague recently referred me to an article that discusses a current perspective on ICT integration through the new Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies framework (Blannin, 2017). It includes some current insight into the Prensky Digital Native/Immigrant debate (2001). You may also find it useful. 

References 

Blannin, J. (2017). Coding in the classroom: Australian schools are about to introduce the new Digital Technologies curriculum. Retreivedfrom https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/coding-in-the-classroom 

Department of Education and Early Childhood Education, Victoria. (2012). eLearning planning & planning support documents. Retrieved from http://epotential.education.vic.gov.au/showcase/resource.php?res_id=592&showcase_id=59 

Devolder, A., Vanderlinde, R., van Braak, J., Tondeur, J., (2010). Identifying multiple roles of ICT coordinators, Computers & Education, Vol.55(4), pp.1651-1655.  

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the horizon, vol.9(5).

Stuart, L. H., A. M. Mills, et al. (2009). “School leaders, ICT competence and championing innovations.” Computers & Education 53(3): 733-741.

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