Instructional Technology (IT) is a constantly evolving field. The ability to adapt is an absolute necessity to manage the needs imposed by emerging technologies, range of skill in personnel and students, troubleshooting hardware and software, curriculum, and budget concerns. Technology increases the flexibility of educators (Alberta Education, 2004). IT leaders guide and support this new found flexibility. IT Leaders must respond and adapt to these rapid changes in order to best meet the needs of educators and students.
The primary outcome of an educational technology integration specialist, as opposed to a director or manager of technology, is to facilitate the integration of the Information and Communication Technology Program of Studies to educate students in the use and application of technology. In education, an effective leader, IT or otherwise, must always bring the focus back to the students, and what is best for their learning and skill development. An educational technology specialist provides leadership, support, and professional development to educators, helping develop skills and provide tools in the area of education technology. Gibson (2001) characterises a leadership role in technology including the following tasks: addressing concerns, supporting teachers, participating in training, developing an inventory, developing a financial plan, maintenance, and developing expertise. If an IT leader is expected to fulfill these needs in a school or in a division level, flexibility is essential to meet such ranging responsibilities. Teachers need help to integrate and manage technology to create meaningful and curriculum based learning opportunities where the students are not just learning a new technology, but using technology as a tool to learn curricular outcomes from another subject.
If the key outcome is to enhance student learning, IT Leaders need to focus on providing assistance, expertise, troubleshooting, training, and help to teachers integrating technology in the classroom. These tasks indicate that an IT leader has a diverse, continually shifting role. The ability to adapt is essential to balancing and meeting the needs of the teachers and learners they strive to assist. Whether it is finding a desktop sharing tool for video conferencing, changing course settings in a learning management system, choosing a blogging platform for an elementary classroom, or facilitating a cross classroom collaborative project, an IT leader is always juggling many requests, tasks, and assignments. An inflexible leader that insists on a “Do as I do, now” (Fullen, 2001 p. 35) pacesetting attitude will not adapt to the change that is inevitable in an IT environment; they will just push forward, ignorant of resistance and problems. Embracing change and leading through it can make all the difference. An effective IT leader will adapt to change to ensure the essential outcome of enhancing student learning.
International Society for Technology in Education (2009) lists technology leadership standards that include “continual growth in technology knowledge and skills to stay abreast of current and emerging technologies.” Change and growth are such a common theme in IT that keeping pace with development requires a personality that is open to change and moves with the changing needs, requirements, and advancements that will help to facilitate student learning.
Alberta Education. (2004). Learning and Technology Policy Framework. Retrieved April 2,2009 from http://education.alberta.ca/admin/technology/standards.aspx
Gibson, I. W. (2001). The Role of School Administrators in the Process of Effectively Integrating School Technology into School Learning Environments: New Research from the Mid-West. In Tollett, J. R., Educational Leadership. [SITE 2001 Section] (pp. 43-47). Retrieved June 25, 2009 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/19/50/cb.pdf
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Wiley & Sons.
International Society For Technology in Education (2009). Technology Leadership Standards. Retrieved April 17, 2009 from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTechnologyFacilitatorsandLeaders/Technology_Leadership_Standards.htm