Thursday, April 10, 2014

What the Academics Say about Walking the Walk

In August I began and iTunes U course called Becoming a Digital School Administrator.  This “course” is actually a collection of resources created by practicing building principals or assistant principals. It is designed for prospective administrators or current administrators who wish to pick up their tech leadership games.

The course's premise is that in order to be successful at leading technology integration the administrators need to “walk the walk”.  As former principal Chris Toy notes,

Your staff will watch very carefully to see whether you have the strength of your own convictions. If they see that you are unwilling to “walk the talk” about integrating technology as a resource for teaching and learning, it is all but certain there will be less willingness on their part to take risks or to do the extra work required to learn about implementing and integrating technology.
morgueFile free photo by jorgeyu
In May, I will once again be teaching the Leadership in Technology course at Madonna University.  I hope to include some of the resources I have collected from administrators who have contributed to my course.  However, it occurred to me that in an academic setting I should provide some scholarly justification for my argument that technology leaders should model the use of technology. After doing some digging I am happy to report that research supports this view.

In “School Technology Leadership:An Empirical Investigation of Prevalence and Impact” (2003) Ronald E. Anderson and Sara Dexter report that, 

The literature providing recommendations for technology leaders’ skill sets usually asserts that principals should learn how to operate technology and use it whenever possible for carrying out their own duties, especially to communicate with others (cf. Dempsey, 1999; Hall,1999; Jewel, 1998-99; Thomas & Knezak, 1991; Thorman & Anderson, 1991).

Perhaps more significantly Phillip M. Podsakoff, identify “Providing an Appropriate Model” as a key behavior associated with transformational leaders.*  The Ontario Leadership Framework 2012 reviews the research on educational leadership research and notes that 

Leading by example, or modeling, is associated with “authentic” approaches to leadership.  Modeling can serve to demonstrate such productive practices as transparent decision making and such positive dispositions as confidence, optimism, resilience and consistency between words and deeds. . . . When leaders serve as models of appropriate behaviors and attitudes, they help build trust and respect among their colleagues.

Though modeling in educational leadership is a rather obscure topic, I feel as though I have some academic substantiation for advocating that tech leaders walk the walk.

*Phillip M. Podsakoff,, "Transformational Leadership Behaviors and their Effects on Followers"  Leadership Quarterly 1990.  p. 122.

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