William Snider’s article in the August 2006 EduTopia, “The Digital Superintendent,” provides a nice window into the thinking of Doug Otto, superintendent of Plano ISD in the Dallas, Texas area. After creating a series of videos for the Texas Technology Leadership Academy (which was primarily funded by the Gates Foundation) several years ago, I become firmly convinced that technology leadership– and particularly the vision of district superintendents and principals of authentic teaching and learning using digital tools, is an ESSENTIAL component for school reform initiatives. A strong case can be made that administrative vision for teaching and learning is THE most important element and ingredient for school reform. Mr. Otto reflects this idea in the following quotation from the article:
Otto is convinced that disseminating a technology vision for his district is a vital part of his leadership position. “A lot of people have energy, enthusiasm, and good ideas for integrating technology into learning,” he says. “But you’ll never get total, meaningful implementation unless there is a vision from the top that everyone can look at and buy into and hopefully implement at the classroom level.”
“The skills that students acquire doing research, analyzing, and synthesizing and presenting information will stay with them for life,” Otto contends. “The world is much more reliant on information and technology, and having the skills to research and present information is critical.”
I am planning to work on a technology leadership initiative in the state of Oklahoma, working with district leaders who need opportunities to learn from their peers (not from me, from other superintendents and principals) about what is possible via technology-infused teaching, what is working, and how teaching and learning needs to and can change for the 21st century. I am drawn to the school reform vision of the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform and the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, among others.
I’ve started a wiki page on school reform that I’m going to keep updating with links to these and other groups. There is a confusing morass of voices “out there” today on the issue of school reform. There are many folks who seem to “get it,” but others who are advancing agendas and visions I certainly don’t agree with. I’m sure I’ll continue to use this blog as well as other web 2.0 tools as ways to learn and share further about this topic.
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