This year’s summer vacation took a decidedly different path. It was summer of discovery – particularly in the world of technology and learning. Instead of walking the beach, I surfed the web in search of YouTube videos. Instead of reading my favorite novel I have pored over Friedman (2007) and Shirky (2008). If you are reading this, you have obviously found your way to my blog – another new summer pastime. This blog represents some of the abundant fruit that has come from my participation in the Technology and Leadership class at Creighton University. This class is an elective in Creighton’s doctoral program in Interdisciplinary Leadership. After having participated in the course for the past two months, I strongly recommend that it be part of the requirements for this entire program of studies. The issues involved in the overwhelming pace of technological advancement and its effects on people, systems, organizations, and countries should be thoroughly studied and, as best as possible, understood by all who would aspire to lead.
The Role of Leadership
I believe that one of the most memorable lessons from this course came early on as we learned of the impact of social media on humbling and bypassing the authoritative regulatory structures of the communication system in the Chinese government as that country was hit by an enormous earthquake. Amateur videos like this one took Twitter, Facebook and YouTube by storm making it impossible for the historically secretive Chinese government to cloak its temporary vulnerability in ways that it had done so often in the past. It is obvious that a new day was upon all those who hope to lead in a society immersed in the tools of the technological age. Global societies are evolving as a result of unprecedented interconnectivity and the massive increases in abilities to gather, store, and utilize data.
As we move toward a new age of the “Internet of Things” where the devices that we all own are interconnected, it is incumbent upon leaders to stay abreast of the changes in spite of the bewildering pace that threatens to overwhelm us.
Leadership In Education
Those of us who are in the field of education are faced with not only deciding how they themselves will utilize technological developments but must remain current in the ways that technology can be implemented by both teachers and students to facilitate the teaching and learning process. There are explosive developments that demand our attention if for no other reason than there is so much money involved. Even more important than the investment required is that the future abilities of our students to successfully compete in a global economy seems to be at stake. At one time it may have been true that in previous generations what was going on across the schools of the world did not matter. However, in today’s hyper-connected world and global economy, our competitors are no longer in neighboring cities and towns but now reside throughout the world. The competitive advantage will go to that society than develops and maintains the most effective system for educating its youth.
Changes as A Result of the This Course
Today’s learner operates in a technologically rich context. Teachers and schools that are more sensitive to students who are digital natives will maximize the abundance of tools available to today’s classroom. Our thinking as educators needs to evolve as we consider the most effective way students learn.
In an attempt to better understand this technologically rich context I began by seeking out this class. After talking to other students in the ILD program I was convinced that it would provide me with a much-needed format to review and discuss these developments. I have not been disappointed. Through our review of these tools I have become an active user of Google Docs, Linked In, Twitter, and Feedly. Now that I have a better understanding of the power and value of short visual messages that can be shared, retweeted, and distributed inexpensively I have also immersed myself in a project to develop a series of YouTube videos that will serve as messages to our faculty, parents, students, and alumni. These videos will focus on issues related to our shared mission, stewardship of the students placed in our care, the importance of parental involvement in the education of high school students, the proper role of technology in the learning process, and a host of other activities pertinent to the life of a high school. Vogt (2011) has written and spoken about the power of New Media to spread the Gospel – a task that is deeply connected to the evangelizing mission of a Catholic school. It would be my desire to see our school participating in this method of developing the faith of the young people.
There is pressure on leaders to adopt and conform to these new technologies. However, as we were constantly challenged in this class to think about ways to accommodate the rapid pace of adjustment that is sometimes demanded, I was constantly brought back to consider how critical it is for leaders to remain focused on the moral implications of their decisions. Leaders need to be people of integrity who can be trusted to make decisions for the general advancement of the common good. To be effective, a person who aspires to lead must develop a track record of wise and reasoned decision-making. It is only in developing such a reputation that a leader can build the trust required to be truly transformative in their community. It is not the tools of technology that develop this trust. It is a real human person making sound decisions for the benefit of others. The tools of communication that technology allows today are simply tools that a leader can use to help build the trust that is at the core of good leadership.
It has been good to have a chance to learn more about these tools and their most effective use. I am grateful for having the experience of participating in this class.
Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.
Vogt, B. (2011). The church and new media: Blogging converts, online activists, and bishops who tweet. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor.