Saturday, January 7, 2012

Evaluating the impact of technology on learning: technology leadership - ITEM part 1

In November I was in Lisbon for the ECIS IT Pre-Conference.  In one of the workshop sessions I attended we discussed how we could assess the success of technology integration in our schools.  As I believe that technology can completely transform learning, I was extremely interested in finding out about the experience of teachers in other schools in assessing the impact of technology.  What I discovered was that most of the schools there didn’t really have an effective way of measuring this either – the teachers were just like me, searching for a good method of truly assessing the impact technology is having on learning.  In the weeks since the pre-conference I’ve been thinking about this question and have done a lot of reading around it.  One useful tool I’ve found is the International Technology in Education Mark developed by Naace and Advisory Matters. 

The first section of the ITEM framework deals with leadership and vision for ICT – using a rubric it’s possible to assess how this impacts on teaching and learning:  from there being no expressed vision from those leading the technology through to a vision that embraces the wider school community, the school environment and culture and that looks to the future.  As well as having a vision, the rubric goes on to look at who developed the vision and therefore who has ownership of it.  Has the vision just been developed by a few staff and Board members or by the whole community?  Is it understood and supported by all?  And is there a process to review or develop this vision, and a plan to implement the vision and monitor its effects?

Leadership is seen as being extremely important in this framework.  It’s clear that a simple focus on hardware and systems will result in a low score.  A school would also not score well on the rubric if the responsibility for leadership of the ICT rests with just the senior leadership team, though obviously this team is important in nurturing a culture of continuous innovation with technology. Operational leadership for ICT should be distributed and coordinated effectively across the whole school.  However this is not enough – curriculum leadership is seen as vital so that the curriculum can respond dynamically to changes in technology practices – teachers need to keep abreast of these changes and the culture should promote curriculum innovation.  The focus needs to be on the use of technology for learning and the evaluation of the impact of technology on teaching and learning.  This can only happen if there is a well-planned and whole-school approach to extending learning through ICT – and I’ve seen such an approach in both my previous schools with administrators, teachers, board members, students and parents all being involved in such planning.

I’m back to the same question, however.  How can we monitor, assess and evaluate the impact of technology integration?  What evidence can we look for to inform our planning?  This evidence must come from assessing the learning experiences, assessing the development of digital citizenship in all members of the school community, assessing the development of 21st century skills such as innovation and creativity and assessing the professional growth of teachers in using technology.   Based on the ITEM rubric, I’ll be writing about these in forthcoming blog posts.

Ideas in this post are based on the ITEM Framework by Naace/Advisory Matters

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