Sunday, March 19, 2023

Leading Digitally-Rich Cultures of Learning

A thriving culture views technology as a seamless component that can enhance learning in a multitude of ways. When digital tools are intentionally integrated, students are able to produce tangible evidence of their conceptual comprehension, develop a range of competencies, illustrate the construction of new knowledge, and become self-directed in their learning. Additionally, technology can increase relevance and make the curriculum more contextual. This is only a glimpse of how digital learning can complement current school practices while also demonstrating the value of learning to students. To ensure long-term success, it is essential to establish a culture that embraces digital learning and integrates it into every aspect of the school's operations. Otherwise, isolated instances of success will be the only outcome.

In a recent post, I shared the Purposeful Use of Technology for Learning (PUTL) framework as a means to develop a foundation and inform how technology can be used to support learner-driven experiences and outcomes. Upon reflection, I discovered that a critical aspect was missing and that was leadership. Below you can view the updated image.

Digital leadership is necessary now and in the future. Leaders need to understand the pivotal role that technology plays in learning. I shared the following in Digital Leadership:

Digital leadership is a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverage resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It considers recent changes such as ubiquitous connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization. It represents a dramatic shift from how schools have been run and structured for over a century. What started as a personal use of technology has become systemic in every facet of leadership. Digital leadership can thus be defined as establishing direction, influencing others, initiating sustainable change through access to information, and establishing relationships to anticipate changes pivotal to school success in the future. It requires a dynamic combination of mindset, behaviors, and skills that are employed to change and/or enhance school culture through the assistance of technology.

Authenticity lies at the core of digital leadership, which involves utilizing digital platforms and tools to build relationships, foster transparency, highlight achievements, openly introspect, and share impactful narratives. By effectively communicating the reasons, methods, and outcomes, leaders can proactively shape a story that is rooted in evidence, aligned with research, and demonstrates effectiveness. Genuine leaders recognize the significance of personal interaction but also strive to innovate and anticipate future needs. This is where the digital element becomes crucial.

To support educators and build capacity, consider applying the tenets of pedagogical leadership, which naturally aligns with components in the PUTL Framework shown above. Leaders can also leverage the Pillars of Digital Leadership to develop and sustain digitally rich cultures of learning. Below you will see visuals for both and links to blog posts offering detailed insight.

To move schools forward in the present time, it is essential to engage in continuous learning and reflection. The world is constantly changing, and with it, jobs and expectations are evolving. If the objective is growth and improvement, then teaching, learning, and leadership must also transform where digital isn’t seen as an add-on but a ubiquitous asset. It is crucial for all leaders, regardless of their title, to explore important questions that can lead to innovative ideas that enhance outcomes for all in a digitally rich culture.

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