Being a digital leader means understanding the value of technology and how it relates to education. But this doesn’t mean you have to know the ins and outs of every latest piece of equipment. Instead, digital leaders have an understanding of how technology can help them to make confident, informed and effective decisions that support their teachers and students. As such, becoming a digital leader is a great way for new head teachers to fast-track earning respect in their respective schools.
But how can you use educational technology to help you to become a digital leader?
By investing in the most appropriate technologies
The best digital leaders recognise that, in just a few years, the technology used in and out of our schools will look very different than it does today. So, rather than focusing on specific tools, head teachers must keep their focus on the benefits of technology when it comes to achieving educational goals.
It’s not about flashy projects or tech for tech’s sake. Instead, it’s about using educational technology to transform the way people work. For example, with access to the right technology, it becomes easier to implement new practices in pedagogy such as flipped learning, personalised learning, and collaborative learning). All of which have benefits when it comes to teaching and learning.
By adopting a school-wide approach
Digital leaders understand that to see measurable results, educational technology can’t merely be used by one department or year group in isolation. When it comes to getting value from educational technology it’s about developing digital skills across an entire school.
As such, it is vital to create and foster a culture that embraces digital transformation and make sure that everyone understands the benefits it will bring. Digital leaders will also look to develop professional learning networks (PLNs) where they can find out about new resources and keep up-to-date.
When it comes to specific educational technology, very often this means investing in cloud-based platforms that facilitate the sharing of resources and the streamlining of processes.
By aligning technology to your strategic goals
Crucially, by strategically investing in the most appropriate digital assets, head teachers are better placed to deliver their current school strategy and achieve their educational goals.
When it comes to getting value from educational technology it’s about developing digital skills across an entire school.
For example, when it comes to priorities, the two most important goals for most schools are improving results and reducing the attainment gap (The State of Technology in Education Report: 2018/19). And, studies show that educational technology can help to close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, with one school seeing expected reading standards increase from 71% to 83% within just one year following the introduction of digital progress tests.
By making life easier for teachers
Great leaders don’t just manage staff; they support them. And with excessive workloads having a negative impact on teaching and learning, it’s vital that head teachers invest in technology that can help remove the burden. This includes things like:
- Real-time assessment and feedback tools can be used to reduce the time spent marking (while also being one of the most cost-effective ways to boost pupil attainment)
- Apps, online forms and video conferencing (e.g. Skype) which can reduce the time spent on face-to-face meetings while keeping the lines of communication open
- Lesson planning tools which allow teachers to customise and share lesson content, quickly and easily.
By understanding the importance of training
It’s no good spending money on things your staff can’t use. So as well as finding the budget for time-saving technology (which often isn’t as expensive as you might think), it’s also crucial to set aside resource and time to plug any training gaps.
Worryingly, as little as 5% of teachers believe that they receive full training and support when it comes to the educational technologies at their schools (The State of Technology in Education Report: 2018/19). But in many cases, educational technology manufacturers such as Promethean will offer full tech training and support to ensure schools maximise their existing tech – without any impact on their wider school budget.
By not wasting money
Budgetary pressures are a real and pressing concern for schools. As such, any reputation gained as a digital leader will soon be lost if you are seen to invest in tech that doesn’t work, doesn’t get used, or quickly falls out-of-date.
Digital leaders must spend their available budget wisely to ensure that their school’s technology remains fit for purpose. To do this means assessing what you need (and consulting your teachers on this), looking at how it will be used, where it will be used, the expected results, and the total cost of ownership.
To maximise your IT budget, you should also consider cloud-based tools like ClassFlow and apps that don’t require annual upgrade costs. Also ensure that anything you invest in delivers benefits when it comes to future-proofing (e.g. regular free updates, less need to invest in new hardware, etc.).
When equipment needs upgrading, also look at where it might be more cost-effective to replace rather than repair. For example, rather than making multiple fixes to failing IWBs, instead look at investing in ActivPanels. Not only do they require less maintenance, but they also come with rolling software updates and a five-year warranty as standard.
Today’s technology is changing the face of education. Digital skills are needed to sustain and foster innovation, and teachers who embrace 21st-Century technologies are likely to become digital champions – inspiring not only their pupils – but also their colleagues.
To find out more about how educational technology is being used to support teaching and learning, download The State of Technology in Education Report 2018/19.