How Principals Cultivate Technology Integration and Use Professional Learning Networks
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AbstractIn this explanatory mixed methods case study, the leadership practices and actions of principals involved in making school-wide improvements integrating technology in teaching and learning were examined. Also, ways in which principals utilize social and technological learning networks to support professional learning and growth were also explored. Interview and survey data from principals and teachers in three school jurisdictions in Alberta, Canada, engaged in technology-rich innovation for school improvement over the duration of one school year informed the primary research question, “How do principals cultivate teaching and learning improvements integrating technology that meet the needs of today’s learners?” A conceptualization of principals’ technology leadership, drawn from the literature, is discussed as an interconnection of learning theory based on the learning sciences, transformative knowledge-building pedagogies for 21st century learning and the complexities for school leaders as they cultivate a growth-oriented culture in a digital age. Several prevailing constructs also emerged in the literature necessary for educational technology leadership, such as, visionary leadership for innovation; professional learning; attention to contexts for support; monitoring for continuous learning and growth; and creativity and openness for change. Various research methods and technologies were used during two sequential phases of data collection. The quantitative and qualitative data provided rich sources of data for converging lines of evidence and for establishing trustworthiness. There are changes occurring in leadership practice and distinct challenges associated with technology integration in schools. Nonetheless, the findings in the study suggest school leaders are strong in fostering effective relationships in the context of technology integration through personalization, trust and collaborative approaches. However, providing instructional leadership for effective teaching, and using networks for professional learning and growth were identified as areas for growth. The findings also suggest school leaders who aim to cultivate change and lead school improvements integrating technology need to have a level of technological fluency themselves. From a methodological perspective, the findings suggest the need for school leaders to make provisions for design based research known as a collaborative partnership among practitioners and researchers for advancing theory and practice in educational contexts.