My initial post on leadership in digital learning environments for this course, nine weeks and many readings, conversations, and assignments ago, identified four essential elements of leadership in the digital age: trust, relationship building, forward-thinking, and tolerant of risk. In the most fundamental ways, my perspective has not changed; however, I would now add a fifth element to my list. I now see the commitment to ongoing communication of a strategic vision or strategic framework as increasingly important in leading change in digital learning environments. Essential elements of this communication of a strategic vision are: transparency and flexibility.
In my current role, as a Classroom Success Facilitator for a digital learning project being piloted and licenced by different school boards across Canada, I can best help to lead change by supporting teachers and students in their use of new EdTech tools. I am not a part of a #techcharlaton group that Dave Cormier (2017) talks about, offering a platform to fix a broken educated system. Like Cormier, I believe that change in education systems needs to happen at a more fundamental level, one that no EdTech platform can initiate. Education systems are highly complex systems. More fundamental shifts in pedagogy, learning relationships, and learning spaces need to addressed (Latzke, 2018). The scope and scale of such changes are momentous in many respects. Procedures and policies that guide education systems on the national, provincial, and school board levels involve “matrix decision-making,” that crosses different levels of funding, infrastructure, tolerance for risk, support, and teaching (Prinsloo & Slade, 2014).
Envisioning what I can do in the future, in terms of being a part of leading change in digital learning environments, revolves around me learning and sharing digital learning tools and pedagogies that best suit students’ learning interests and needs today. As a Trainer/Classroom Success Facilitator with an EdTech project, I need to work to be a part of sharing not just tools and resources, but different ways of approaching teaching – different pedagogies, or a mix of pedagogies, than we have traditionally worked with. There is not a lot of “traditional” in digital learning environments. That is part of what is so exciting about change… it involves new and different ways of doing things.
Change can be hard for most people, and that is another place that I see an important role for myself, to model and support less tech-savvy teachers to venture into uses of EdTech that can support their teaching skills, and truly amplify the learning of their students, in unprecedented formats and ways. The answer isn’t always digital, it needs to involve human interaction, collaboration, and paper – perhaps sketching (graphic recording) mapping, writing, reading, and editing – but the combination of all of these tools, “a constellation of digital things,” is powerful (Scott, 2019, para. 7). And different. We are navigating our ways through the transformations involved in a necessary revolution of an educational system designed during the first and second industrial revolutions. Conway, Masters, and Thorald (2017) speak to the fourth industrial revolution: the first industrial revolution being initiated by the steam engine and mass production, the second by science, a third revolution initiated by IT and data, and the fourth, by cloud-based systems. Latzke (2018) reiterates that “schools [today] need to be different, not better” (para. 20). I envision myself being a leader in encouraging more robust K12 digital learning environments, as a trainer with an EdTech start-up, as well as through my role as a teacher with my school board. Supporting my peers and students in these pedagogical and technological shifts is a challenging and exciting endeavour that I am passionate about. The knowledge and skills that I am gaining through the MALAT program, through content and interaction with my peers, are helping me to become the kind of trusted, reflective, and adaptive leader that I want to be in dynamic K12 learning environments.
Conway, R., Masters, J., & Thorold, J. (2017). From design thinking to systems change: How to invest in innovation for social impact. Retrieved from https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/reports/rsa_from-design-thinking-to-system-change-report.pdf
Cormier, D. (2017, December 8). Our schools aren’t broken, they’re hard [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2017/12/08/our-schools-arent-broken-theyre-hard/
Latzke, B. (2018, February 6). How would you transform your school [Web log post]? Retrieved from https://www.bradlatzke.com/how-would-you-transform-school/
Prinsloo, P., & Slade, S. (2014). Educational triage in open distance learning: Walking a moral tightrope. The International Review of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 15(4), 306-331.
Scott, A. (2019, June 30). Why we need learning technology developers [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://ammienoot.com/brain-fluff/why-we-need-learning-technology-developers/