The Importance of Leadership in Educational Technology

The Importance of Leadership in Educational Technology

image of a meeting room table

Reading EdSource’s recent article on the departure of Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith, I was not surprised by the significance placed on his leadership for the future of the community school movement in California. We at ZeroDivide know what the research says about the importance of leadership to the success of education programs and we have observed it ourselves.

Research by RAND Corporation suggests that almost 60 percent of student achievement can be attributed to the quality and leadership of principals and teachers. Another study discusses the indirect way in which good leadership improves student outcomes. By strengthening collective teacher efficacy, good leaders create school environments that support student learning.

At ZeroDivide, we have worked for 15 years to improve community and organizational outcomes through the use of technology, and our approach to building tech capacity begins with cultivating strong leadership. It has been our experience that efforts to infuse technology into an organization require commitment and involvement from the top. Completely embracing new tools and systems—whether in schools, in nonprofit organizations or in communities—requires culture change, and leaders need to set the pace and the direction and provide support at every step of the way.

At ZeroDivide, we have worked for 15 years to improve community and organizational outcomes through the use of technology, and our approach to building tech capacity begins with cultivating strong leadership. It has been our experience that efforts to infuse technology into an organization require commitment and involvement from the top. Completely embracing new tools and systems—whether in schools, in nonprofit organizations or in communities—requires culture change, and leaders need to set the pace and the direction and provide support at every step of the way. 

As schools across the country prepare to fully implement the Common Core State Standards, superintendents, principals and other leaders will be key drivers of sorely needed school culture change. We have all heard the rallying cry of policy leaders, education advocates and President Obama to bring classrooms up to speed with the 21st century. The Common Core provides an opportunity to not only make American classrooms more collaborative, interactive and challenging, but also more tech savvy. The Common Core includes specific technology standards that are embedded into each grade level.

The meaningful integration of technology into our nation’s classrooms can no longer be delayed. Schools will, however, need time to prepare for this change and to ensure teachers and other staff are onboard. School leaders must begin planting the seeds of this great cultural shift now, driving change while empowering others to own the transformation. 

Tony Smith’s colleagues are saying the community schools movement can withstand the impending shift in its leadership because Smith built a strong culture and empowered others to become leaders. In the upcoming school year, leaders across the U.S. will have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to fully embrace a sea change in the way their students learn. The dawn of a new era may, finally, have arrived.

Ms. Carpenter is the Vice President of Business Development at ZeroDivide and has more than 30 years of experience in business development, technology policy and communications. She has also helped design large-scale technology immersion programs involving both in-school and out-of-school time.

Tags: 
education tech, school leadership, transformation