How has technology impacted educational leadership? Technology has had a profound impact on every level of educational leadership today. From new tools for assessing performance and teaching concepts, to the content of curriculum, to the challenges of social media, technology is central to the work principals, superintendents, and other leaders in schools perform every day.
In every era, schools reflect the society they serve.
Today, society is increasingly dominated by high technology.
Technology has evolved quickly and continues to accelerate.
According to Pew Research polls, slightly over half of American adults had some internet access in 2000. By 2021, it was over 93 percent. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, it’s 99 percent… and in the age groups attending your school, it’s certainly 100 percent.
As society has shifted with big technological developments and unlimited access to the entire universe of human knowledge at our fingertips, so too have schools. Educational leaders have been at the forefront of the adjustments society has made to the way education gets done – and they will continue to be among those leading the way.
The Three Major Ways That Technology Impacts Educational Leadership
Like every individual, school leaders today deal with plenty of day-to-day impacts from technology – from having a smartphone that pings with social media updates at all hours of the day… to dealing with email inboxes stacked with unread mail from parents and faculty… to the specter of ChatGPT writing essays for graduating seniors who think they have better ways to use their time.
But in their capacity as leaders, educators are impacted by technology in four significant ways:
First, the country relies on schools to teach students the fundamentals of the technological tools they will use to become productive workers and thinkers in the community. They must learn about the latest technologies to fill those roles. That means technology impacts curriculum content and courses.
Teachers themselves rely on the state-of-the-art to get their lessons across. When someone figured out that chalk could make marks on slate tablets, teachers used those for lessons. When the printing press was new, books were the revolutionary technology in schools. From chalkboards to overhead projectors to mobile tablets to the vast informational wonderland of the Internet… technology impacts teaching tools.
Today, artificial intelligence is the next big technology in the educational world.
But it’s not only educators who are in touch with modern technologies. Students are sometimes quicker on the uptake than their teachers. So, technologies like social media and ChatGPT can impact the fabric of school culture and the learning environment.
Building and District Management
Finally, schools take advantage of technology in the same was an any organizational. Information technology today has become a driving force in fields that are essential to running a school or school district:
- Facilities maintenance
- Human resource management
- General office functions
So, technology has a big impact on how educational administration is managed. And it’s only going to get bigger.
Learning How to Handle the Impacts of Technology in Every Capacity as an Educational Leader
The rate of change in technology has been a dizzying ride over the past decades. It’s not likely to slow down anytime soon.
For future leaders in education, that means it’s more important than ever to find a degree program that can lay out the uses, abuses, and direction of technological developments in schools and society.
Fortunately, the wide range of specialized educational leadership degree programs take these skills into account.
Even the most general Master of Education in Education Administration program today will have coursework in educational technology. More importantly, the range of general leadership skills taught offer tools for handling technology impacts across the board:
Each subject comes infused with methods dealing with the types of technologies that impact them. The same is true of more mundane administrative coursework, such as finance and budgeting, student affairs, and HR management.
Specializing To Address Technology Impacts in Different Areas of Educational Leadership
There are also more highly specialized versions of these leadership degrees that are tailor-made for handling tech impacts in education.
Concentrations in some educational leadership programs explore the specific impacts of edtech in fields like:
Online learning has seen some of the biggest and fastest developments in edtech. These programs cover not just the networking tech needed for online classes, but the kind of fundamental pedagogical shifts needed in remote learning.
At the nuts-and-bolts level of school technology, edtech administrators are the specialists. They stay up-to-date with new developments and trends. Their knowledge is the bedrock that other teachers and administrators rely on in adapting to teaching technology changes.
Challenging the brightest and most motivated students is a job for the latest and greatest technology. Gifted and talented program admins get specialized training in how to teach students to code, put together robots, and build a brighter future with technology.
In special education, technology offers life-changing options for disabled students. These educational leaders learn about the latest in assistive devices, adaptive learning systems, and communication systems for special needs kids.
Library sciences have been radically altered by the wealth of information from the internet. But both managing and interpreting that data takes specialized training. Librarians learn to categorize and assist students and teachers in finding what they need in the vast halls of digitized information.
All these fields have their own branching set of impacts that come from new technology. And each comes with exciting new possibilities for reaching kids who might have fallen through the cracks before.
Learning To Cope with the Social Impacts of Technological Change
If technology can make teacher’s lives easier, though, it can also create distractions through non-educational uses that creep into classrooms under the radar.
No teacher in the land has been able to avoid the impact of smartphones in the classroom. An easily-concealed, instantly-connected, always-on ultimate distraction device has forever reshaped classroom management.
The related reality of pervasive social media has impacts both in and outside the classroom. Most school principals two decades ago had never heard of cyberbullying. By 2022, Pew Research reported that nearly half of all U.S. teens have experienced it, with more than half ranking it as a major problem. Spreading insidiously outside the view of school authorities, the National Institutes of Health connect it to adolescent suicides.
This is the impact that educational leaders wish they didn’t have to deal with. But through coursework in developmental psychology, behavioral management, and mental health supports, a degree in educational leadership can help in this area, too.
Embracing Technology Impacts Within Education Itself
Technology and education are impossible to untangle. In fact, much of the modern education system exists entirely to further the understanding and use of technology. You don’t need to look any further than the recent emphasis on incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) into school curriculum as an example.
These kinds of impacts on educational leadership may be the most profound. They represent a shift not only in how schools are run and how classes are taught, but in what the very subjects of education are.
This is where the big picture view of education in society becomes critical to educational leaders. Making the right calls comes down to understanding not only how tech impacts education, but how it will affect the lives and futures of today’s students.
With Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT, the Next Technological Impact on Educational Leadership is Already Here
Of all the technologies on the horizon that can affect the role of educational leadership, AI, or artificial intelligence, may be the most profound. Machines that can perform cognitive tasks in ways that are similar to or even surpass humans will upend many fields. It will be the role of school administrators to prepare their students for that new world.
Educational leaders will have to stand strong against a related problem that is already appearing in schools: widespread disinformation.
Teaching a generation raised on internet references can mean competing with internet narratives. Educators already have trouble pushing back against the sole use of Wikipedia as reference for essays and reports. When AI bots are flooding the zone with plausible but incorrect information about almost everything, that problem will only get worse.
Principals and superintendents will need to have answers to these problems before they arrive. And the best way to work them out will be through advanced studies in educational leadership.