Leading Change – Integrating Technology in schools to Improve Learning

Integrating technology can be very tricky and there are no easy ways. Technology is transforming society, the way we work and the way we interact with each other. No one can argue that education has kept pace, indeed there are many good arguments for saying it shouldn’t. This blog is not about those arguments, it is simply how we can improve learning in the classroom by integrating  technology , so that all students are given equal opportunities.

Notice the title of the blog is Leading Change – Not Managing. This is a leadership issue and an extremely difficult one to get right. Integrating technology is not about teachers using iPads/chromebooks or other devices in a haphazard way. Pockets of excellent practice is not integration, nor is excellent teacher use of interactive whiteboards. Integration is the appropriate use of the tools that technology can give us across all elements of the school. It is about releasing creativity, collaboration, following the students learning journeys. Fundamentally using digital tools to do things that we can’t do without them in a systematic way.

So where should we start?

With a Vision for the school:

What is it that you want to achieve?

What do you want the technology to do?

How can it impact directly on learning?

At this point it might be useful to look at the SAMR model.

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

A great overview by Kathy Schrock here

A brilliant flow chart from Mark Anderson (ICT Evangelist ) shows how it can be used in planning



As  Mark Anderson points out this is not a ladder. We don’t start with Substitution and then move up in sophistication to Redefinition.  To me the vision should start with the Redefinition. What if we were starting education from scratch what would we do? How would we pull down the walls of the classroom. We could create an interconnected community with the bounds of students not confined to a curriculum or borders. Though maybe we should get back to reality! Look at what is possible, then what is plausible.

Obviously the vision needs to be realistic and in keeping with where the school is currently. If you have a very successful traditional school with an older staff with  low staff turnover your model will look very different to a new start academy.

Sir Tim Brighouse has outlined the way to engender change with a sequence 

Vision + Skills + Incentives + Resources + Action Plan = Change

You cant have failure in any one of these stages. Immediately we see one of the major problems with technology – Skills !  for the first time in any major initiative we are asking many teachers to go well out of their comfort zone.  According to Dan Pink’s research our 3 main motivators are:

  1. Mastery – The feeling that we have the potential to  succeed
  2. Autonomy – Some freedom to choose how we proceed
  3. Purpose – Understanding what  the point of the change is

A very large body of staff feel that they don’t have the skills to master technology use. This isnt like an Interactive Whiteboard that you can just ignore, there is no hiding place. Your lack of knowledge may be exposed to the world! This lack of confidence can lead to fear and failure avoidance. At best you have reluctance, at worse you have a terrorist or revolt on your hands. People need to see what the incentives are – Ideally to make learning better and make them a better teacher should be enough, but in reality it often isnt. Making their life easier may also be a useful incentive – Some marking and feedback apps do this. Resources must be made available both in terms of hardware (I know many who are frustrated that they cannot get access to a class set of devices regularly) and technical support – If your wifi or devices are unreliable then you will  struggle to embed change.

You may already  have some Tech wizards on your staff that you may want to deploy to lead this integration and build up the skills of others.

Sadly it may  not be as simple as that. Staff can be very reluctant to show their weaknesses to colleagues, so sometimes in-house CPD isn’t as effective as it could be.  Bringing in an external expert  for a Tech Day may help with the vision, but skills take more than a day to develop so longer term relationships are best. A sustainable program needs to be put in place for these new skills to be embedded.  A sustainable  Action Plan needs to be in place to support the vision and to create habitual use of technology.

It is useful to look at the TPACK model to see how we might want to see your staff develop.


Clearly we want  have everyone in the middle TPACK zone – great content  and pedagogical knowledge With the knowledge and skills to interweave digital tools to redefine learning. Sadly you wont have many of those – If you have you wont be needing to read this blog!

There are 6 other segments and we can consider these

Content Knowledge (CK) : These are often the highly qualified staff with doctorates and a passion for their subject.  They see how their subject area fits together. They understand the concepts and misconceptions. Some of these  have been my worst teachers ever with little understanding or interest in pedagogy

Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) : Have a passion for teaching. If they have little passion or interest in the subject then students can be taught very well information that they may not find that it all links together. Physics is possibly the subject that teachers are least comfortable teaching. I regularly get told by non – specialists that they ‘teach to the book’ in case the students ask difficult questions

Technological Knowledge (TK) : Often the ‘geekier’ members of staff. Some of these are brilliant, however it they have passion for technology rather than what it can do for learning they can be a liability. It is essential they have good relationships with staff as these are usually the most skilled technologists. Your students are likely to have better TK than your staff so consider using them as Digital Leaders.

Technological Content Knowledge (TCK) : These people tend to produce very flashy projects that can lack any coherent learning. Like an extreme powerpoint that is beautiful , but the time in creating it is disproportional to the educational benefits. It can be difficult to work with these people as they dont get why you are not impressed.

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) : These people can be fantastic for taking others on their journey to TPACK. They understand the appropriate time to use technology and it’s learning benefits

Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) : These are traditionally the best teachers who are very successful without technology. These are the teachers you need to have onside. If you are lucky they will see the technology as something they can integrate to become even better. Unfortunately they may also take the opposite line and not see the point. They can feel threatened as having scaled the heights they could now be undermined by new initiatives they know little about. I deal with these talented cynics by taking their lesson plan and teach a demo lesson using tech to show what value the tech can add.

Other elements to consider 

When considering how to integrate technology you may also want to consider the Diffusion of Innovation Model

There is a 5-Step Process in the adoption of innovation:

(1) Knowledge – person becomes aware of an innovation and has some idea of how it functions

(2) Persuasion – person forms a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward the innovation

(3) Decision – person engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation

(4) Implementation – person puts an innovation into use

(5) Confirmation – person evaluates the results of an innovation-decision already made

Step (1) is relatively easy,  ideally we can show a successful model within our school. For step (2) is crucial that we get as many people on side as possible – We are all prone to confirmation bias  If we have a critical mass of staff onside then progress can be made. We should support staff as much as possible to plan (3)  and carry out (4) using a digital technology tool. As a staff there should be an open discussion on whether the technology had a positive impact – Ideally we have as much data as possible and wont rely on a single trial which may have failed

What about the Adopters

As if it wasnt complicated enough we have a range of enthusiasm for innovation or innovativeness

Innovativeness is the degree to which an individual or other unit of adoption is relatively earlier in adopting new ideas than other members of a social system. There are five adopter categories, or classifications of the members of a social system on the basis on their innovativeness:

(1) Innovators – 2.5%

(2) Early adopters – 13.5%

(3) Early majority – 34%

(4) Late majority – 34%

(5) Laggards – 16%

You will be able to recognise these in your own staffroom !

How to deal with each of these groups is nicely outlined by Carla Jefferson here

How to lead a movement ?

If you are interested in a program of support for your school please contact me through the Book CPD link


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