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Leading to the tipping point

By Brian Lewis
March 29, 2016
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I’ve had some inspiring conversations lately with a range of folks that, as I began to put the pieces together, indicate we may just be reaching a tipping point on a couple of critical issues related to the meaningful engagement of technology in learning worldwide. 

As I’ve replayed these conversations in my mind, a common thread seems to be emerging, and it’s a thread that’s been part of the iste mantra for many years: the critical nature of leadership and the foundational role of initial and ongoing professional learning when it comes to education technology.

In the last several months, education leaders, corporate heads, ministers of education and more have all shared with me – at a noticeable frequency and intensity – their recognition of the fact that leadership and professional learning are critical to transforming learning and teaching with technology.

There is no question that the single most critical player in all this is the teacher. But, as the iste Essential Conditions tell us, there are a host of other environmental realities that increase our chances of success.

Corporate folks tell me their businesses can’t be just about making sales, but instead must include a commitment to ensuring the success of their product in transforming learning. Their business models increasingly recognize this reality. As I’ve heard it said: “Sale No. 2 isn’t going to happen unless sale No. 1 is successful in meeting the education goals of the buyers.”

Ministries of education recognize that massive device purchases in the absence of effective leadership and ongoing professional learning for educators are not likely to lead to success. As a result, they’re seeking support in developing programs that ensure successful integration of technology in learning, one thoughtful step at a time.
Educators in every role are singing off the same song sheet when it comes to rallying around the critical nature of leadership and professional learning.

One of the most wonderful aspects of our proximity to this tipping point is that iste stands ready to assist. And, I’m pleased to say that iste saw this coming. It’s why there are iste Standards for Administrators. It’s why our board of directors named Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance as a board member in 2014.  
It’s why we provide a range of free resources year-round on, such as the Lead & Transform Diagnostic Tool that provides a snapshot of a school or district’s progress toward building a digital learning environment. Used by leaders and other educators across the implementation spectrum, the diagnostic tool provides insights for data-driven decisions.

It’s why we collaborate with other education nonprofits that are also focused on the role of leadership in education transformation. On the professional learning front, we also deliver the Verizon Mobile Learning Academy – a free, 10-week course to help educators improve student learning with mobile devices.

iste is positioned to be an influential partner at this critical juncture. And the voice of iste is saying, “Let us help you embrace the critical role of education leaders and professional learning as you reimagine learning and teaching. Let us collaborate with you in putting students at the center of learning. And let us deliver the professional learning necessary for all of these efforts to be effective.”

It’s what we do. It’s our passion. And we’re so grateful that so many, because of the dedicated work of so many others, are ready to jump in with both feet.

Brian Lewis is CEO of ISTE.

(Photo by Hope Harris.)