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A Championship Team

A Championship Team

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Published by Greg
This paper compares IT integration into schools with a chapionship hockey team.
This paper compares IT integration into schools with a chapionship hockey team.

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Published by: Greg on Nov 08, 2008
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06/14/2009

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A Championship Team

LEADERSHIP AND TECHNOLOGY: A SYNTHESIS PAPER

A Championship Team: A Synthesis Paper in Leadership and Technology Submitted by: Greg Shwaga Submitted to: Dr. Dianne Yee University of Calgary August 5, 2003

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How do you take one week of intensive study, twenty different perspectives, more than thirty articles and two presentations on ICT and synthesize all of it into a four-page paper? In true constructivist fashion, I revert back to old knowledge in order to organize and make sense of the new. You see, as a relatively "green" principal, I have virtually no experience in taking a school, very traditional in its instructional ways, and transforming it into a lighthouse for ICT implementation. I have however, been an armchair National Hockey League coach for about 22 years now and have observed several "basement dwelling" teams be molded into dominant Stanley Cup champions. I suspect the building process involved in both endeavors is somewhat similar. The process begins with leadership. I have yet to witness a championship team that had a poor coach and incompetent upper management. Likewise, Kincaid and Feldner (2002) note, that principal leadership is one of the most important factors affecting the use of technology in classrooms. To be an effective ICT leader, school administrators, must have a vision from which to work. Unlike a hockey coach however, whose vision is simply to hoist the cup at the end of the year, a vision for ICT implementation can be much more convoluted. For this reason, administrators must also be skilled enough to reach out to all stakeholders in order to develop a shared vision for their school. Norris and Dolence (1996) describe the shared vision as creating a longer vision horizon and "the most important act of strategic thinking." Schiller (2003) notes that principals, who publicly demonstrated a strongly held vision of where their schools were heading, were more effective in ICT implementation. As in hockey, you cannot arrive at a destination (vision) without first defining what the destination is. Administrators must also be supportive and understand what teachers and students are

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experiencing in order to be effective ICT leaders. Hockey coaches do not just meet the team at the arena; they eat the same food, sleep in the same hotels, and ride the same planes and buses, as do their players. Similarly, ICT efforts in schools depend, in part, upon school principals being users (not necessarily experts) of technology like their teachers and students (Woodhurst, 2002). Finally, to be ICT leaders, principals must view ICT implementation as a process and anticipate barriers and obstacles. A hockey season consists of a pre-season, regular schedule, and playoffs. Throughout the entire season, there will be injuries, personnel changes, slumps and streaks and a good coach will navigate through all keeping the team focused on the end goal. ICT implementation is also a process. An effective leader will recognize this, and navigate through the inherent highs and lows while building towards the shared vision. Most likely the genesis of a championship season is in the week following the conclusion of the previous campaign. At this time, the organization's management team will meet extensively to reflect upon the completed season and assess the team's strengths and weaknesses. From this assessment, will come management decisions designed to improve overall performance, and guide the team towards next season's goal. Assessment is also required if a school is to reach its ICT implementation goals. Not only is assessment required, but it is necessary in order to align ICT goals with overall school goals, and school goals with overall district goals and priorities (NCREL, 2001). School ICT assessments should be comprehensive and take into account infrastructure, personnel, and overall ICT implementation goals. In assessing infrastructure, schools must ask if the right hardware and software is in place, and is it reliable? Johnson (2003) even goes as far as to suggest that reliability is "one of the most critical and potentially

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limiting factors in the successful implementation of information technologies in schools." In terms of personnel, an assessment plan would gauge student, teacher, and administrator ICT competencies against a predetermined standard such as provincial ICT curriculum outcomes or the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's (2001) technology standards for school administrators. Assessing infrastructure and personnel allows a school to see which of its ICT goals are being met and how well the school is progressing towards the shared vision for ICT implementation. At this point, I must admit that linking ICT as a teaching and learning tool to hockey is a bit of a stretch, but here it goes: An effective hockey coach will attempt to have his or her players consistently implement a system. Will the team employ a forechecking style, or will it be known as defensive, trapping team? In terms of ICT implementation in schools, should ICT be used to extend traditional instructional practices, or should it become integrated within the learning process itself in a more constructivist approach? A successful coach will look for and then implement a superior system that will best exploit the potential of his or her players. Similarly, a successful ICT program would implement IC technologies in optimal ways. In this context, Woodhurst (2002) warns that using the "new ICT tools to deliver curriculum in the traditional manner of classroom instruction ignores the true potential of the ICT medium." The potential of ICT lies in its flexibility and ability to tap vast reserves of information (Woodhurst, 2002). Therefore, embedding ICT into the curriculum rather than simply using it to deliver curriculum, appears to be the superior system. As Resnick, Bruckman, and Martin (1996) put it: "Would you rather that your child learn to play the piano, or learn to play the stereo?"

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It is amazing really, to think that a NHL hockey player, who has been playing since he was six years old, is still subject to four practices per week in the big league. What else is there to learn? The answer of course, as it is for teachers, is plenty. Too many times however, teacher professional development is a "one-shot deal" delivered by an expert, never to be addressed again. Can you imagine an NHL team in October, hiring Wayne Gretzky for a day to teach them about power plays and then never following up on the presentation again? To be successful, a power play must be practiced all season, broken down into small components, analyzed, and updated regularly. To be implemented properly, ICT professional development needs to follow this "power play" model and be conducted in manageable units, regularly and over time. In addition, professional development means learning something new - or change. People resist change. Change means that they must let go of something familiar, wade into a neutral zone between what is familiar and what is yet to come, and start new (Bridges 1991). A successful ICT professional development program will be sensitive to people's emotions regarding change. One final analogy between leadership and technology and championship hockey teams involves security, ethics and policy issues. Sometimes, new technology drives policy. Up until the 1960s goalies in the NHL did not wear masks. Then Bobby Hull appeared with the first curved hockey stick enabling a puck to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour. Policy mandating the goalie mask followed rather quickly. In schools, much of the ICT found today is relatively new and like other technology can be used in productive or destructive, helpful or hurtful ways. The Internet is a classic example. It can be used as a global source of knowledge, communication device, and venue in which

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to conduct commerce. It can also be used to publish hate literature and build bombs. Like the goalie mask, in many cases policy that guides ICT use or implementation does not yet exist or is in a perpetual state of refinement. For administrators, and ICT leaders, the challenge is to develop policy that allows schools and students to participate fully in the potential benefits of ICT while at the same time protecting them from the potential harm. Looking back, my armchair coaching days have helped me sort through the mountain of issues involved with leadership and ICT implementation. Building a hockey team resembles ICT implementation however, I will concede it is a simplistic model. Both models require strong leadership and involve a vision, although a hockey team's vision is more tangible while a school's ICT vision is far more complex. Both must begin with assessing where they are at, and plan for assessment along the way. In both models, a system must be followed that takes advantage of the full potential of the people within the organization and both models require that its employees constantly upgrade their skill base. Finally, in both models, policy issues can develop from "never seen before" technology. Perhaps the greatest resemblance of all however, between championship teams and ICT implementation, is that for both to happen, an entire organization full of diverse people, interests and resources, must come together and make it happen. Like many aspects of education, this is much easier said than it is done.

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References Bridges, Wm. (1991). Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. pp. 3-5, 1922, 34-36 and 50-52. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Johnson, D. (2003). Maslow and Motherboards: Taking a Hierarchical View of Technology Planning. Multimedia Schools, 10, p26(8). Retrieved August 3, 2003, from http://infotraccollege.thomsonlearning.com/itw/infomark/362/44/63327520w3/14!xrn_7_0_a96 126020.html Kincaid, T. & Feldner, L. (2002). Leadership for Technology Integration: The Role of Principals and Mentors. Educational Technology & Society 5 (1). Retrieved July 18, 2003, from http://ifets.ieee.org/periodical/vol_1_2002/kincaid.html Norris, D.M. & Dolence, M.G. (1996). IT Leadership is key to Transformation. Cause/Effect 19 (1) 12-20. Retrieved August 5, 2003, from, http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/cem961w.pdf North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (2001). Technology Standards for School Administrators. Retrieved July 30, 2003, from http://www.ncrtec.org/pd/tssa/intro.htm Resnick, M., Bruckman, A., & Martin, F. (1996). Pianos Not Stereos: Creating Computational Construction Kits. Interactions 3 (1). Retrieved August 3, 2003 from, http://lcs.www.media.mit.edu/groups/el/papers/mres/pianos/pianos.html Schiller, J. (2003). The Elementary School Principal as a Change Facilitator in ICT Integration. The Technology Source. Retrieved July 29, 2003, from http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=1009 Woodhurst, E. (2002). Linking Research to Educational Practice. University of Calgary Symposium Paper. Retrieved July 30, 2003, from http://www.ucalgary.ca/~lrussell/woodhurst.html

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