There is a storm brewing on the horizon, and that storm is called “e-learning in schools”. As the world is changing at lightning speed, and employers are biting their nails in frustration at the lack of technical skills of the students coming out of school, as young people get sick and tired of ‘powering down’ when they enter classrooms and drop out of traditional settings to participate in virtual learning environments, as universities are offering more and more opportunities for students to access their work online, we are hearing the chorus of more and more voices yelling out that we need to change the way we teach our kids. We see this on Twitter, we see it in the news, and we see it in the statistics of drop-outs. We see YouTube videos of students telling the world that they no longer value that which most teachers still hold dear: The tradition of face to face education.
In the middle of all of this, we have our leaders of schools. We are all turning our eyes to these leaders and we are all asking them to lead us into the future…
I believe we have several COMPONENTS to include in the implementation of any E-Learning plan or ICT integration strategies for our schools:
- Component 1: Whole school approach: Embed e-learning into school accountability and improvement framework. Link to teacher goals and individual learning plans for teachers and principals.
- Component 2: Build leadership capacity: Professional Learning on leading E Learning and ICT improvement for Principals and school E Learning/ICT coordinators
- Component 3: Build teacher capacity: Provide and support high quality teaching and learning in the areas of ICT applications and how to use E-Learning for effective teaching, learning and assessment. Source high quality evidence-based curriculum and assessment strategies to fulfill e-learning needs.
- Component 4: Effective use of data: Use data to inform teaching for student improvement and understanding. Monitor and track student progress within classrooms and P-12.
- Component 5: Student Intervention: Targeted small group intervention using e-learning strategies. Differentiated instruction using e-learning strategies.
- Component 6: Partnerships (Schools and communities) regarding the use and integration of e-learning.
In all of these components, the Central Office of the particular Department of Education, the Regional Offices as well as the individual schools, will have certain roles and oblications. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on the School Leadership responsibilities for implementing the E-Learning plan across the school:
School Leadership responsibilities for Component 1 (Whole school approach):
- Set standards and targets that are explicit and are linked to school strategic plan, principal and teacher performance plans
- Promote the concept of all students as E Learning/ICT learners and capable of achieving success
- Support the development of teacher capacity as teachers of ICT and E Learning (e.g. by resources like time release for staff to attend or develop Professional Learning in areas of E-learning, timetabling staff off together so they can plan for using e-learning across curriculum and year levels, funding equipment and professional trainers, etc.)
- Promote E Learning awareness of all teachers across all curriculum areas (link to individual teacher plans and goals).
- Support innovations around ICT-rich learning environment
- Model the effective use of an ICT-rich learning environment
- Embed information and communications technology [ICT] as a key enabler to personalising learning in teaching practice and programs
School leadership responsibilities for Component 2 (Build leadership capacity):
- Appoint and support E Learning/ICT coordinators in all schools
- Identify best practice in E Learning and promote collaboration
- Respond to Department of Education initiatives
- Source and promote the Department of EducationE- Learning resources and assessment tools
School Leadership responsibilities for Component 3 (Build teacher capacity):
- Principals promote, implement and support DEECD initiatives
- Utilise region expertise in E Learning/ICT for building teacher capacity
- Support attendance for beginning teacher forums, twice year to promote effective E Learning/ICT teaching and learning
- Embed information and communications technology [ICT] within teaching practice as key enabler to personalising learning in teaching practice and programs
School leadership responsibilities for Component 4 (Effective use of data):
- Principals promote and support all teachers to use data to inform teaching and learning, regarding e-learning practices in classrooms
- All teachers use data to inform teaching for student improvement and understanding, using e-learning tools
- Assessment as, of and for used in all classrooms: Use E-learning tools as much as possible.
School leadership role in Component 5 (Student Intervention):
- Principals ensure that systems are in place to track student progress, using e-learning and online tools
- Students who require additional assistance are identified , tracked and supported, using e-learning as much as possible
- Principals to ensure that intervention is embedded and linked to classroom instruction, using e-learning tools and strategies as much as possible
- ICT is embedded in the communication with staff, parents and teachers
School leadership in Component 6 (Partnerships):
- Acknowledge the role of parents and carers in E Learning learning
- Keep parents and stake holders informed of planned e-learning inititatives, and invite feedback wherever possible. Invite collaboration if possible.
- Strong partnerships between home, school and community. Partenerships can be built on or promoted via e-learning and online tools (blogs, wikis, etc.)
- Close links with pre-schools and other schools, promoting and using E Learning and ICT routines and forums.
- ICT is embedded in the communication with staff, parents and teachers
- ICT is embedded in partnership/stake-holder relationships and collaboration
It is clear that without direct and indirect support from those in power to make decisions about resource allocation and funding, the e-learning journey will not happen in schools. Tough decisions need to be made about:
- Funding the training of e-learning coaches and leaders for all schools,
- allocating money for time for e-learning purposes,
- providing expert training for school leaders in e-learning appliacations and how e-learningcan promote effective teaching and learning (pedagogy),
- allocating high quality e-learning resources,
- mandating time release for teachers and principals to access the resources and training about the effective uses of e-learning in classrooms,
- enabling innovators to be recognized, valued, promoted and supported in their uses of e-learning principles and applications,
- an ongoing learning and improvement culture surrounding best practice e-learning in schools,
- and setting clear expectations that e-learning will become part and parcel of our classrooms.
Many of the decisions surrounding support are totally out of the control of the normal teacher. The modelling and support need to come from the highest realms of leadership in any Department of Education. In their strategic plans, Departments of Education need to allocate resources to schools, tagged specifically to enable principals and innovative teachers to make the e-learning happen in schools, and to bring others on board.
Yes, an e-learning storm is brewing on the horizon, and like in the past, visionary leadership will be the only safe ship in this storm.
For more resources on E-learning and school wide change, please visit (and download the documents):
This post was written in response to a call from this website: http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2010/07/calling-all-bloggers-leadership-day-2010.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dangerouslyirrelevant+%28Dangerously+Irrelevant%29&utm_content=Google+Reader