IT Leadership That Impacts Learning
Information Technology (IT) is not synonymous with those who help you with your computer problems. This view is not entirely incorrect, per se, but it severely understates this field’s span, critical as it is. At its most basic, information technology is the application of technology to solve an organization’s problems or business on a broad scale.
Therefore, an IT person solves all kinds of technology problems. It might be to make sure the IT systems are aligned with the organization’s needs, provide tech support, security testing, or device or network maintenance, or maintain the physical components of the information technology infrastructure.
What Is IT Leadership?
Therefore, the IT leadership is the group of leaders in a business or organization that is responsible for the IT applications and infrastructure that the company or organization utilizes to empower and drive the vital objectives and strategies for reaching those objectives. So what does IT leadership have to do with learning? How does it impact learning? And which IT leaderships most impact learning?
What Does IT Leadership Have to Do with Learning?
As technology has evolved, so has education, which has grown to include education technology at a fast rate. As such, schools have employed educational technologists, or IT leaders in education. Educational technologists are often the only educational technology leader within a school and, therefore, have many duties. These duties include integrating modern technology through the purchase of equipment, implementing the technologies, making sure everyone (students, parents, administrators, and teachers) understand the technology, how to operate it and its goal, and more.
How Does IT Leadership Impact Learning?
IT Leadership impacts a student’s learning because it affects an educator’s ability to teach. If an educator doesn’t have the technology they need to teach their students effectively, this can impair their learning. Also, if they have the proper, modern technology, but they don’t have the training on how to use that technology, then they are in the same boat. Their students are not benefitting. In fact, they are probably in a worse state than if they didn’t have the technology in the first place. Time is being wasted in the classroom, trying to figure out equipment—time that could have been used to teach vital concepts. Good IT leadership is critical.
Styles of IT Leadership
There are several different styles of IT leadership, including paternalistic leadership and servant leadership. The leadership style that the education technology leader utilizes can play a significant role in how well their training is received and, therefore, how well the students’ learning gets impacted.
A servant-leader is the complete opposite of a leader-first leader. Servant leadership is characterized by a leader who is a servant first. When you have a servant-first mentality, you put the needs of those under your umbrella before your own. You make sure the highest priority needs of “your people” are being served. A servant-leader shares the power, puts others’ needs first, and helps them grow and reach their potential.
This is a great leadership style for IT leadership in the educational field. Their goal needs to be to grow the teachers and train them, and if they are strict and asinine about it, they are less likely to get as far.
Another type of leadership is paternalistic leadership. This is the leadership style that is typically associated with a loving yet strict father. If an educational technologist took a paternalistic leadership approach, he would be interested in the teachers’ personal lives. He would look out for them and their emotional well-being, but he’d also be authoritarian. He would glean respect. This leadership style is not typically well-received in Western cultures. However, it seems to work very well in countries like Mexico, where respect for the hierarchy is promoted.
The leadership skills are perhaps as critical as the style of leadership that the IT leadership displays. There are several skills that an educational technologist must “own” if they are to impact education. Three major skills are soft, or interpersonal, skills, hard skills, and the ability to inspire.
The first skill, interpersonal skills, overlaps with their leadership style somewhat, as their leadership style is affected by it. How they relate to the teachers they are to train and serve has a significant effect on how well the IT leader can do their job because it affects how well the teachers will relate to them.
The second skill is “hard skills.” By this, I mean the technological skills they must possess to have the job. They cannot impact learning if they do not possess those skills. However, technological skills are not the only hard skills they need. They also need pedological skills. They must be able to teach educators how to apply the technology in the classroom.
The last skill is self-explanatory. IT leadership must be able to inspire those they are leading. Inspire them to what? Well, to want to learn more, to want to use the tools they provide, to be excited about teaching with educational information technology, to… There is so much inspiring to do!
As you can see, IT leadership is essential to a school, and great IT leadership is vital to great learning—teacher learning and student learning. As an administrator, be careful who you choose as your educational technologist. As an education technology leader, be wise in the way you lead. IT leadership impacts learning! And, as a teacher, remember, education technology leaders are just humans, so be patient with them as they try to help you better help your students.