The technology snowball effect
As the technology leaders for our districts, many of us have become the key change catalysts as we move into transformative digital learning environments. Change management is one of the toughest challenges in any organization, but especially in education. The following three strategies will help make sure you are successful as you move your district or school into digital transformation:
- Listen. What better way to build a collaborative environment? Run a “listening tour” where you ask what is working well, opportunities for improvement, and ideas on technology in education. Asking these questions and listening to teacher groups in each school or department are essential to determine the culture, gather great ideas, and to build excitement. Curating the ideas and information will help define your vision and direction.
- Find your early innovators. The rule of thirds: one-third of your staff members are early innovators constantly learning and looking for new tools to improve student outcomes; another third are on the sideline waiting to see what happens before they jump in; and the final third are not interested in changing practice. If you focus the majority of your initial time on the early innovators with new technology tools and learning, the snowball effect will happen. Your middle third will clamor to get involved after seeing your early innovators rolling with success (and hashing out all of the kinks!). The wall will start to break down with the final third and they will want to see more success to eventually take the leap.
- Celebrate. Be sure to celebrate your early innovators and other staff members that experience success. There is nothing more empowering and exciting for staff members than to receive recognition from their colleagues. Celebrate failure also — people will think you are weird when you celebrate failure, but this is not only how we all learn, but it promotes the innovative environment that you will want to foster.
John Connolly serves as the chief technology officer for Consolidated High School District 230 in Orland Park, IL. He works with a team of experts to provide the best technology solutions for D230 staff, students, parents and the community. A visionary innovator focused on preparing students for the global world, John has directed a 1-to-1 program, Google migration, new learning management system, social media expansion, digital citizenship, new website and key operational improvements. John recently was honored as one of the NSBA’s 20 to Watch Ed Tech Leaders for 2014.