Over the last few decades, technology has grown exponentially to permeate every single sphere of our lives. The discovery of the internet and the World Wide Web will go down the annals of history as one of the greatest inventions of all times. Not only has technology affected the way we relate to each other, but it has also completely revolutionized and rearranged key sectors in society, the education system included. At the turn of the 21st century, over 90 percent of educational institutions in the US had already been connected to the internet (Picciano, 2005). Such interconnectedness can only present educational institutions with immense opportunities for growth. But to reason that technology is an end in itself would be foolhardy. How technology is used to promote innovation and inform decisions aimed at improving the educational systems must form the basis for any rational thinking. It is against this backdrop that this essay aims at evaluating one of the six core skills contained in the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for administrators.
NETS for administrators can be defined as a set of interrelated techniques and skills that enable school administrators to understand what they are supposed to do to successfully and effectively adopt the use of technology in our educational institutions (ISTE, 2009). The responsibilities of spearheading, implementing and sustaining methodical reforms in our schools lie squarely on the administrators. The success of using the latest technological tools in schools to promote efficiency, innovation, and growth will ultimately depend on how well the administrators are aware of the latest NETS techniques. The six broad categories include Leadership and vision; digital-age learning culture; excellence in professional practice; systematic improvement; assessment and evaluation; and Social, legal, and ethical issues (“NETS for Administrators,” 2004). This essay will focus on digital-age learning culture.
The world has become a global village. The continued growth of technology triggers new opportunities and challenges for education systems that school administrators must become accustomed to if they are to steer their respective schools to success in this era of global competition (Mitchell, 2002). In this perspective, the digital-age learning culture is one of the standards that school administrators must be well knowledgeable in for them to come up with a holistic technological approach in catering for the requirements, interests, and aspirations of students in the digital era. Also, the standard is fundamentally important as it enables educational administrators to develop, promote, and maintain a vibrant technologically superior learning culture that grants a rigorous, significant, and engaging learning environment for all students (ISTE, 2009).
This standard is also important in this day and time as it enables educational administrators to maximize learning and teaching in their schools by coming up with curriculum, instructional approaches, and learning environments that utilize the latest appropriate technologies. Educational leaders must be at the forefront in inspiring teachers and students alike to share in the vision of comprehensively integrating technology in their respective schools or zones with the express objective of nurturing an environment and culture that will encourage the realization of the shared vision. Emphasizing the importance of applying technology in its entirety through application of digital-age learning culture should inform the thinking of school administrators if they are to realize the influential potential of technology in their educational institutions (Picciano, 2005).
There are several sub standards contained in the digital-age learning culture of NETS for administrators. To maximize on the powerful potential of technology, school administrators must ensure that innovations in instructional strategies are focused on incessant progression of digital-age learning (ISTE, 2009). Utilizing technology to come up with new content and fresh thinking for learning that is responsive to the needs and requirements of modern education must be the primary focus for school administrators. In addition, technology-based instructional strategies have positively increased student retention, while significantly reducing the time taken to cover lessons (Sales & Emisiochl, 2004).
Second, educational leaders must strive to model and encourage regular and effective utilization of technology in school-based learning processes (ISTE, 2009). Beside simplifying the work of teachers and students, utilizing technology for learning incessantly helps to introduce a culture that make students to view the learning process as an enjoyable and rewarding exercise. Today, technological models are being developed by educational institutions to assist in interactive learning and inter-school collaboration processes (Mitchell, 2002; Picciano, 2005). This has enabled institutions to share knowledge and resources by embracing technology to develop and publish elaborate web links that incorporates all the components of the schools’ educational networks.
Third, school administrators must strive to provide a learner-oriented environment that is fully equipped with technology and resources able to satisfy individual as well as varied needs of all learners (ISTE, 2009). The establishment of online libraries, virtual libraries, and online courses are good examples of how technology can be used in this regard to satisfy the needs and aspirations of a wide range of learners. Today, smart educational institutions are moving away from traditional methods of learning towards e-learning (Sales & Emisiochl, 2004). With the assistance of technology, students are now able to easily access a wide range of reading materials, not to mention the fact that teachers have been set free by technology, and can now devote more time to be with their students.
To effectively ensure that the digital-age learning culture is internalized in the schools, administrators must lead from the front in ensuring that instructors and students alike are effectively oriented in the study of technology. They must also be active in attempting to infuse technology across the curriculum (ISTE, 2009). People must know how to use technology to be able to reap the benefits that come with it. Also, such an exercise is important in that it will ensure wide usage of technology, not to mention the fact that much more time will be saved. Barriers to education will be a thing of the past (Picciano, 2005; Sales & Emisiochl, 2004).
To entrench a digital-age learning culture, school administrators must also be prepared to take part in local, regional, national, and international learning communities that share the same vision of stimulating innovation, imagination, and collaboration (ISTE, 2009). Besides securing the growth and usage of technology in schools, this skill will ensure that administrators remain properly informed about emerging technological solutions that can efficiently assist them in running and managing the institutions.
The behaviors exhibited by school administrators who have met the above discussed standard are many and varied. Such an individual would always like to communicate his results about how his technology plan has positively affected the school to all the stakeholders concerned. In this respect, he would always be willing to feature in the local, regional, and national school-based technology committees to share his experiences of how he has been able to establish digital-age learning culture, and his prospects for the future (“NETS for Administrators,” 2004).
A school administrator who has attained this standard is also likely to lead from the front in encouraging teachers to extensively rely on the existing technology to come up with innovative curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessments. (“NETS for Administrators,” 2004). The leadership decisions made by such a leader are based on extensive collection and analysis of data from a wide range of sources. This is aimed at coming up with the best possible decisions to steer the school to greater heights. Such a leader is also fond of utilizing the data collected by other teachers especially from new sources to inform technology planning processes (Picciano, 2005).
Upon attainment of the discussed standard, the school administrator spends much time trying to encourage and mentor the teachers to experiment with emerging and innovative educational technologies. He also encourages his teachers to incorporate effective educational technologies into the school’s curriculum, instruction, and evaluation methodologies. This is geared at raising the quality of education and learning process in the school. Lastly, such an administrator likes to write professional journal articles mostly at regional or national levels to advocate for effective policies or plans that could improve the district technology plan (“NETS for Administrators,” 2004).
By any standards, technology cannot be devolved from our everyday activities. All available information points to the fact that technology serves as an engine for growth in all major sectors in society (Picciano, 2005) As such, school administrators need to internalize all the skills encompassed in NETS for administrators to ensure that educational institutions remain centers of excellence and research. They must therefore put their best foot forward to ensure that technology becomes an integral component for all learning activities.
- International Society for Technology in Education. (2009). NETS for Administrators.
- Mitchell, A. (2002). New learning ecologies – Promoting learning in the digital age – A holistic perspective.
- NETS for Administrators. (2004), Learning Point Associates.
- Picciano, A.G. (2005). Educational leadership and planning for technology. Prentice Hall. 2005. ISBN – 10: 0131194712.
- Sales, G.C., & Emisiochl, M.N. (2004). “Instructional technology as a bridge to the future: Palau’s story.” Adapting technology for school improvement: A global perspective. Ed. David W. Chapmans & Lars O. Malck, pp 81-100.