1. YES! I’ve been talking about this a colleague for the last few weeks. Curriculum is the what, how, and why, and technology can be the how of good learning. And when we name titles to include technology or teach tools, we might be inadvertently sending the message that the tool is the what, how, and why, when it’s only a piece of it (and sometimes isn’t part of the equation at all if the meaning isn’t enhanced/improved by it).

  2. garybau

    Keep the eyes on the prize..on improved learning.
    Tech has become to mean online..with a computer device.
    Technology in its simplest form is a device to improve a process. STEM(skills) use a technology to achieve a purpose. The use then of STEM(skills) can be applied in every learning area..not just a computer in math(s) or sciences.
    The purpose of the exercise is improvement in learning or to demonstrate understanding.
    My observations over now thirty years since computers have been available..we have replaced paper and r3educed the costs of schooling..
    education?..an after thought
    Quicker (better?) worksheets in the cloud..but why worksheets when interactive dynamic responses are now possible.

  3. BlendedLearningLady

    I really appreciate this post! I did not start as a ‘Tech Lead’ but as a classroom teacher, then interventionist, then ‘Teacher Leader’ and through all that experience I became passionate about how learning can be improved with technology and here I am. The current title of my role still doesn’t really capture what I do but what is central to my work every day is supporting teachers with where they are and where they want to go. I think this is mostly centered around technology because it’s easier for many teachers to ask for support with tech since it’s sort of new to everyone. I never have a teacher ask for support with management, lesson development, or let’s say, questioning. Though while I’m there supporting them with ‘tech’ we organically get to the other stuff. So sometimes tech is the vehicle that gets us to better teaching and learning. 😉

  4. I think that for any school boards, going from “tech leads” to “Innovative Teaching and Learning Leads” will be their next step in their evolution. Change can be slow – one step at a time. The important thing is that we keep moving forward, and never loose our #1 focus: transforming pedagogy. And I would also add how important it is to also work with principals, to develop their leadership competencies. To help them become innovative leaders.

    Thanks for another great post George!

  5. Agree! In our district we have “Instructional Design Specialists” that support teachers in transforming teaching and learning with a focus on pedagogy and 21st century learning. It is intentional that they are not content specialists or tech specialists although they bring these important components to the table when working with teachers. Staying focused on quality teaching and deep learning will allow for the tech to become a valuable tool that will help you reach places you could never go before!

  6. Tom N.

    Technology is a tool that is used to enhance learning. It does not replace innovative ideas on delivering curriculum and engaging student learning.

  7. Great post. I think part of the struggle is really defining what “better ways to teach and learn” really mean and look like across the curriculum. Most of the time, we focus on “student engagement” as the end goal of technology integration. The use of digital tools – even at a superficial or substitution level – can appear to engage students a bit more than traditional “paper and pencil” methods. A teacher sees more students paying attention during Kahoot, and considers it to be evidence of effective use. If engagement is how we define “better teaching and learning”, then for many (most?) teachers, a Kahoot or a Google Slide presentation with narration or music might be considered “better teaching and learning” , especially if that engagement initially leads to slightly better ‘test’ results. But is using technology to engage students really “better teaching and learning”? I don’t believe it is. We need to better define and model the potential capability of educational technology to extend learning beyond the classroom. Our end goal should be to equip and empower students to apply their learning to authentic, real-world challenges. We need to provide examples and models of what deeper learning competencies look like in action. We need to emphasize that engagement or the novelty of using a digital tool is not the end, but a means to both establishing and pursuing a sense of inquiry, awe, creativity, and wonder in learning. Furthermore, when we demonstrate to students how technology integration can be the means through which their learning can be connected to their own passions and interests, we can make learning relevant and meaningful to them. If we can demonstrate the power of digital tools to extend collaboration and community to access and leverage the knowledge and skills students are learning to empower them to make a substantial, positive impact within their own communities, then we know we are moving beyond a Kahoot and into substantial evidence of better teaching and learning.

  8. Jessica McMahon

    I do think focusing on the title is just one small part of it. I was an Academic Innovation and Technology Integration Specialist at one time, but I’m doing the same job now as a Digital Learning Specialist. Besides being easier to say, it is how you approach the job that is more important than a title.

  9. Tim Gray

    I agree that using edtech tools like Kahoot don’t lead to deeper levels of engagement, not because the technology isn’t effective, but because the methodology isn’t correct. That being said, I am an eLearning coach, and often times people feel pressure to use technology in their classrooms. Those people feel like they are really accomplishing something by using Kahoot or another edtech site or tool, and who are we to take that away from them and tell them it’s not true learning? I believe that if I were to walk into one of their rooms and relay that there are better tools than just Kahoot, I would shut down any lines of communication and trust in the teacher-coach relationship. You could change my title to Innovation leader, it’s not going to change the level of engagement with those teachers. It’s the relationships that make the teachers willing to try new things. Not the title.

  10. Andrew Chiu

    Agree with lots of this and have experienced the “technology” means “fix my technology” situation! Also agree with Brian’s post that “innovation” can be a risky label. I think “Innovative Teaching and Learning Lead” is effective because it contains the works “Teaching and Learning”, more than the word “Innovative” or “Lead”. The “Innovative Lead” title – does that automatically signal to others in the organisation that they are less innovative, and have to be led to innovation? That would likely create barriers to innovation and a potentially awkward relationship for the person who has to fill those shoes… a challenge when much of the job depends on strong relationships!

  11. Kendra Grant

    Great post! I do however, having a little bit of seasoning, feel like we’re repeating ourselves. We’re talking like these ideas are new but we’ve been struggling with the tech vs. pedagogy for decades. (BTW in 1994 I was a teacher-librarian and my tagline was Leading and Learning with Technology 🙂 While I agree that the “tech expert” leading the way doesn’t work, I do believe that technology should be “on par” with pedagogy. It’s through the combination that we get the innovation. It’s the synergy of the two that creates transformation. If we don’t consider what we can do differently with the technology: consider what we gain and what we lose then we’ll merely replicate (or at best amplify) existing practice. Think about interactive whiteboards. The tech folks told teachers how to use the software and the pedagogy folk just continued to teach the same way with a new tool. Now IWBs are scorned by many when in fact they are powerful tools for collaboration and dare I say, helping students seeing the “big picture”.
    I’m all about words. As a inclusion advocate words matter. I think we need to avoid words like innovation, and words that smack of expertise. I like Learner Experience Design Consultant or LX Designer – a bit out there but it points to the interface or interconnection of tech and learning and how they work together. LX design is often associated with online experience but I think, in an increasingly digital, multimedia classroom (I hope) the two start to blend. Here’s the article that got me thinking about LX http://uxmag.com/articles/say-hello-to-learning-interface-design FWIW

    • BlendedLearningLady

      Kendra, I totally agree on your summary of the use of IWBs! I continue to see them as a glorified overhead with an emphasis on more ‘stand and deliver’ from the teachers. Rarely do I see students at the board working interactively with material. It’s mostly a projection of a worksheet. 🙁

  12. It frightens me sometimes that people think technology is my passion. It’s not – learning is. The joy of being a Digital Learning Coach doesn’t come from technology, it comes from learning new things…which ever changing technology provides in abundance. It seemed like wordplay when we changed our title from Technology Integration Specialists to Digital Learning Coaches, but it was a true gift. Our focus is on Digital Learning strategy, and this change did make a difference. I’m blessed to be in a district that celebrates DLCs as an active part of instructional design.

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