As we consider the technology needs of our schools and school districts, it is of the utmost importance to keep in mind that the issues we confront in this area of education should drive us toward a more well-rounded consideration of both hardware and software system needs, and a deeper consideration of the need for more depth in the area of management personnel (Banoglu, 2011).
Educational leaders in the field of educational technology should be evaluated to ensure technical expertise, but it may also benefit the organization to take a deeper look at that leader’s interpersonal skills as well (Banoglu, 2011).
It is true, as Leadership & Technology (2004) notes that all of the technology we are challenged to implement and improve upon requires a given level of technical expertise, but we must be careful to not apply the same demand on the entire tech team.
Not all tech team members are made equal. Any well-crafted team contains individuals with different skill sets designed to design, build, implement, assist and correct errors in the system. Some of the district and school tech team will be outstanding hands-on workers with a mastery of the hardware of the district. Others will welcome the opportunity to pour themselves into deep problems involving intricate code. Both of these groups will rely little on their ability to relate and interact with end users. This Technical Services Staff are the “fixers.” They live in cubicles, and for good reason, they work well on their own or with others who share their skill sets (Hall, 2008).
Applications Services Staff, however, tend to be more customer directed. There are those who serve in this division who are less than customer friendly. These are developers. They enjoy technical challenges and should be kept from human contact.
Instructional Technology Staff tend to rise from the classroom, and are, thus, very solution-oriented and out-going. They are not the strongest in the realm of hardware and software solutions where these involve code issues or hardware failures. They simply enjoy seeing teachers and students learn about and implement new teaching and learning strategies.
Each of these groups requires careful calibration and execution of very different management skill sets. Technical Services Staff, for instance, respect those in leadership who posses a high degree of technical expertise and provide strong direction as to the mission; more permissive forms of leadership are often dismissed by these team members.
Applications Staff in the two distinct divisions prefer very different leadership styles. The authoritarian style so highly prized by the Technical Services Staff is rejected, here, while more relational leadership styles fit well into the customer -facing end of the Applications Staff (Hall, 2008).
The Instructional Services Team responds best to the mentor/coach style of leadership. These team members are very relational and want to know they are adding value to the entire system. The micro-managerial style of more authoritative leaders is seen as counter-productive (Hall, 2008).
Each of these components of the team is critical. The entire team fails if any of these professionals fails. It is, therefore, critical for the leader to reflect different leadership styles as he interacts with each segment of the Educational Technology Team.
Banoglu, K. (2011). School principals’ technology leadership competency and technology coordinatorship. Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri. 11(1). 208-220.
Hall, D. (2008) The technology director’s guide to leadership: the power of great questions. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education
Editor (2004) Leadership & Advocacy. The Journal. 31(12). 40.