16 SES 09 A, Enhancing Effectiveness of ICT Learning Environments
Over the past three decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) have found their way into all aspects of life. This includes the private context as well as the professional and educational context (OECD, 2016). ICT have become an increasingly important topic with regard to 21st century skills and education (OECD, 2015). The administration, organization and leadership of a school is in many cases also closely tied to the use of ICT (Gurr, 2004; Petersen, 2014). Even though there is ample evidence that school leaders play a key role in the school organization on a general level (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Robinson, Hohepa, & Lloyd, 2009) and even though there is ample evidence from research outside of education that ICT can have a profound impact on workflows, management, communication and coordination processes (Hanna, Rohm, & Crittenden, 2011; Tapscott, 1996; Westerman, Bonnet, & McAfee, 2014), hardly any research has been conducted into how school leaders use ICT in their professional context and with what consequences. While there is some research indicating school principals play a key role in integrating ICT in schools (for example Ottestad, 2013; Yee, 2000; Yuen, Lee, & Law, 2009), there is no research on the organizational level nor is there any knowledge on how ICT (might) play a role in the day-to-day work of school principals.
This study sought to tackle the following research questions:
1. What role do ICT play in the work of school principals?
2. What consequences do school leaders perceive for their leadership practices?
Our theoretical framework is rooted in the models of school improvement and educational leadership (Dalin, 1998; Fullan, 2008; Harris et al., 2013), coupled with the notion of ICT as an innovation that can have sustaining as well as disruptive properties (Fagerberg, Mowery, & Nelson, 2006; Rogers, 2003). We presume an unspecified impact of ICT on working practices of school leaders that has ripple effects on the immediate context (staff, parents, and students) as well as extended context (collaborating and supervising institutions). We furthermore assume a reciprocal relationship of influence between all actors involved. Beyond this, we recognize the absence of models and theories and seek to ascribe to an exploratory paradigm.
As little research has been conducted in this field, this contribution follows an exploratory approach to answer the two research questions. First, an extensive review of German as well as international literature on the topic of leadership, management and ICT was conducted with particular attention being paid to sources from the educational realm. For the review, only publications with peer-reviewing procedures as well as book-publications were considered. In addition, publications had to be 10 years or younger to be included. The results were used as the foundation of an interview guide for the second step of the study. In a second step, school principals from six schools in Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germany were interviewed. This was done in a semi-structured manner with the help of the questionnaire. Schools were chosen from one federal state so to provide certain coherence with regard to policies and directives on the superior hierarchical level. In addition, schools were chosen according to a diverse sampling strategy. The participating schools are: one elementary school (“Grundschule”), two upper secondary schools (“Gymnasium”), one vocational school and one combined elementary and lower secondary school (“Gemeinschaftsschule mit Oberstufe”). With the exception of the last school, which is a private institution, all schools are public schools. Among other things, the interviews revolved around the role and use of ICT for leading and managing a school, possible changes in the leadership practices through ICT, as well as challenges, constraints. All interview data was analyzed using qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2000) in a deductive and inductive manner (e.g. Bos & Tarnai, 1996).
Regarding the first research question, a first analysis of the data revealed that digitalization has found its way into virtually all domains of school leadership and management. Important categories of relevance are staff recruitment and development, administrative tasks, classroom planning, communication and coordination and documentation. With regard to the second research question, asynchronous communication and coordination has become more prevalent; however, an expectation of always being available as well as an overabundance of data surface as possible challenges or constraints, In addition, heterogeneous ICT-related competencies of staff pose another challenge. The strong presence of ICT has led to new routines and requires specific competencies, for which school leaders in Germany are not prepared through any sort of formal training. The results are discussed with regard to central desiderata of research as well as future of professional development, in a digital age, both at national and European level.
Bos, W. & Tarnai, Ch. (Hrsg.). (1996). Computerunterstützte Inhaltsanalyse in den Empirischen Sozialwissenschaften. Münster: Waxmann. Dalin, P. (1998). School Development - Theories and Strategies. London: Cassel. Fagerberg, J., Mowery, D. C., & Nelson, R. R. (Eds.). (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press. Fullan, M. (2008). From School Effectiveness to School Improvement - An Inevitable Conceptual Evolution. Journal Für Schulentwicklung (2), 64. Gurr, D. (2004). ICT, Leadership in Education and E‐leadership. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 25(1), 113–124. Hallinger, P., & Heck, R. H. (1996). The principal’s role in school effectiveness: An assessment of methodological progress, 1980-1995. In K. Leithwood, J. Chapman, D. Corson, P. Hallinger, & A. Hart (Eds.), International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Administration (pp. 723–783). Dordrecht: Kluwer. Hanna, R., Rohm, A., & Crittenden, V. L. (2011). We’re all connected: The power of the social media ecosystem. Business Horizons, 54(3), 265–273. Harris, A., Day, C., Hopkins, D., Hadfield, M., Hargreaves, A., & Chapman, C. (2013). Effective Leadership for School Improvement. Routledge. Mayring, P. (2000). Qualitative Content Analysis. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(2). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1089 OECD. (2015). Schooling Redesigned. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/content/book/9789264245914-en OECD. (2016). Innovating Education and Educating for Innovation. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/content/book/9789264265097-en Ottestad, G. (2013). School leadership for ICT and teachers’ use of digital tools. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 8(1–2), 107–125. Petersen, A.-L. (2014). Teachers’ Perceptions of Principals’ ICT Leadership. Contemporary Educational Technology, 5(4), 302–315. Robinson, V. M. J., Hohepa, M. K., & Lloyd, C. (2009). School leadership and student outcomes: identifying what works and why : best evidence synthesis iteration. Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Education. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press. Tapscott, D. (1996). The digital economy: Promise and peril in the age of networked intelligence (Vol. 1). McGraw-Hill New York. Westerman, G., Bonnet, D., & McAfee, A. (2014). Leading digital: Turning technology into business transformation. Harvard Business Press. Yee, D. L. (2000). Images of school principals’ information and communications technology leadership. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 9(3), 287–302. Yuen, A. H. K., Lee, M. W., & Law, N. (2009). School leadership and teachers’ pedagogical orientations in Hong Kong: A comparative perspective. Education and Information Technologies, 14(4), 381.
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