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The next First-time Principals Programme residential course is 11th-13th April 2012. One day of the three day course is devoted to leading teaching & learning in a digital environment (or as we prefer to write it teaching & learning). Is anybody interested in talking with me about the types of ideas or activities that would encourage new principals to engage enthusiastically with this issue?


  • Paula Jamieson

    Hi John,

    I believe that Principals that role model the use of digital devices and have an online presence   (be that via Twitter, Blogging, VLN etc) more often than not have a staff that are less resistant to change (in relation to ICT's) and more willing to take risks themselves with establishing effective teaching and learning in a digital environment.

    It's worthy of considering whether or not Principals have even been exposed to current research, professional learning and informed conversations around the power and effectiveness of digital technologies. Do they value it?

    • Are first time Principals aware of what a 'digital environment' could look like? (Have they seen it, read about it, been immersed in conversations around it?)
    • Are they using or have their schools considered using 'cutting edge' technologies (I realise this raises numerous questions eg. "Who informs their decision making around such purchases?" "Are BOT, community and Whanau part of the digital learning conversations in your schools?")

    The types of ideas or activities I feel would encourage new Principals to engage enthusiastically would be

    • Have hands on workshops or opportunities where new Principals can see, use and engage with mobile devices. (If you show initally how these devices can improve communication, collaboration and productivity that's your hook!)
    • Provide opportunities to talk to experienced Principals/Educators that are leading the way and impacting on student achievement (there's your second hook!) through the use of digital technologies.
    • Provide 'back up support' - eg When they walk away who can they turn to? Where can they find readings/links/research quickly? (especially that 'just in time' learning).

    In my current role I find Principals often don't timetable professional development in for themselves, the staff come first. More often than not it's 'all about the conversation', having someone who has seen things done a lot of different ways and can offer a point of view (for me personally this is where Twitter becomes a powerful PLN tool). Principals often have a list of questions they just want answered.

  • John Locke

    Hi Paula,

    Thanks for your post. I agree absolutly- we certainly see principals as key people to model embedded digital practice in their leadership of teaching and learning. We also believe in walking the talk and modelling learning in our own delivery of the programme. We require principals to use Skype, Twitter and google apps and encourage reflection about how these tools can be used in their school communities to raise achievment and make connections. We have a particulatr focus at the moment of trying to prepare principals for the worlds of UFB and N4L and the potential these environments offer for significant pedagogical change and improvement. We also like to use real artifacts (emails, letters, achievemnt data etc) in presenting principals with the opportunity to develop complex problem solving skills within 'real' scenarios. Do you have any 'sanitised' materials that could be used to create such scenarios that have a strong eLearning flavour?

  • Mike Wilson

    Simple idea but provide some modeled tasks using mobile devices. You will need a decent wireless connection and advertise that they bring at least one wifi enabled device, be it tablet, cellphone or ipod. No laptops or netbooks. Variation of devices is the key here as the pros and cons can be discussed.  Maybe have a few ipads/ android tablets for those who do not own a device. I think to get "buy in" to these future technology's you need to intrinsically see how these devices can improve both achievement and student motivation towards learning.

  • John Locke

    Hi Mike

    Thank you for the useful practical tips.

  • Paula Jamieson

    Hi John,

    Sorry it's taken me so long to revisit this page (for some reason my email alerts werent coming through but hopefully sorted now). I have a range of ICTPD data that I could easily 'sanitise' for this purpose. I was particularly thinking about data that shows 'change' and 'challenge' in relation to elearning, so FTP's could delve into why (or why not) it was particularly successful in some schools and not in others?   I'll give this more thought and see what I can come up with.

  • John Locke

    Thanks Paula,

    Using 'real' documents to simulate problem solving and prioritising is great 'safe' practise for new principals.