Leadership in transforming education

Education Technology’s Jack-William Cantwell reports back from the annual NAACE conference in Nottingham

I’m at the NAACE conference, and will be reviewing some of the finer points from selected keynotes throughout the event.

First off I managed to catch a talk by David Fairbairn-Day, Head of Education Strategy with Promethean. David was discussing how integral it is to lead and to appropriate for educators in any school whilst technologies are being implemented. When any educational establishment is looking to transform a learning method or adopt a new technological policy or protocol; the issue of leadership is of the utmost importance it transpires.

Talking about how people teach was the first stage in assessing how to go about helping educators with any transition. Do they rely on knowledge communities, do they imbibe students with information through knowledge transfer, or are they more archaic in their methods? The way in which teachers impart knowledge makes a huge difference as to whether you can bring in new technologies as their teaching style must reflect and complement the theme and practicalities of the technology being implemented.

David went on to discuss how people in education a​dopt innovation. With transforming education, there is always a scale within education. The early adopters are the ones who can trail blaze and lead the way with innovation, closely followed by those willing and eager to integrate technologies in their practices. And of course, at the negative end of the scale is where the sceptics and ‘laggards’ were pegged. Acknowledging these varying scales of adoption and eagerness to shift in teaching practice through ICT is another vital piece of leading a school through such large change.

The final stage that leaders must assess when implementing new technologies was how they can develop the innovation. Whilst there must be willingness, assuming the motions have begun it is important to track progress with the change in methodology and to ensure appropriate support is given. There will always been an innately positive correlation between willingness for change and effectiveness of a policy if the shift is managed well; but conversely the slow to adopt and the cautious/unwilling need extra training and coaching to help the shift in balance. David maintained that the 3 aspects to any shift were to ‘enable, motivate, and drive.’

He also went on to say ‘It is not just about the technology, it is also about developing the people to be the driving force behind it and to properly ensure that the tools and equipment are enhancing the learning.’

It was clear to see that the overall message from this keynote speech was that leadership is vital to the appropriate control and moderation of overseeing any change in technology; and that assiduity must be coupled with willingness to change in order for a successful shift in teaching practices using ICT.

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