EdTech has been generating big buzz. As the edtech space evolves, we can see educators adopting and implementing various technologies to improve instruction, engage students better.
But even today many ed leaders even those who know that their system needs changes, they don’t know how to work further on it to bring it to classrooms. They don’t have a starting point. And this is where people like Mr. Lawrence play a role.
Lawrence G. Miller is an Educational Leader, Instructional Technologist and a Social Media & Branding Strategist. After four decades as an instructional technologist, teacher, and senior-level highered administrator, he have stepped back to do limited consulting as well as research and online teaching.
1. Tell us more about your projects, achievements, & certifications.
I have worked in leadership positions in a variety of American higher education settings, including: Three community colleges, four research universities, a medical school, a law school, a private liberal arts college, and a for profit university. In addition, I managed a community access cable television organization and worked in human resources at a hospital. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in communications technologies as a producer of content, transitioning from 16mm film to video to Web technologies and social media. I earned a BA in Political Science at Humboldt State University (CA), a Masters in Educational Technology from the University of Arkansas, and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Administration at the University of Texas at Austin.
2. To benefit from educational technologies, having a vision in place is very essential. What should the vision for a 21st century school be and how can school leaders and administrators create and work on one?
I believe that leaders must be champions of engaged learning. That is to say, they must create opportunities for students to learn through strategies and technologies that enable their students to learn about learning. When actually engaged in meaningful learning activities, students are learning to love learning. This is not about instructional content, but about learning process. That is engaged learning. Educational technologies are helpful, but cannot be relied upon if there is not an equal emphasis upon processes that foster problem solving, team building, and creativity.
3. Being a 21st century educational leader, share your understanding of new ways how children are learning now, how’s it completely different to the way we used to learn?
Young people today are products of the digital world and popular culture. Through their “wired” lifestyles, young people are learning every day, but they may not be learning content that has value, nor are they learning habits of effective learning. Educators are very much in a competition for the hearts and minds of students. If we, as educational leaders, cannot make formal educational processes engaging and compelling, then popular culture, learned informally, will win out.
4. How must leaders make sure that the vision they have for bringing the change is communicated to teachers, parents and students?
Success in the digital age is highly dependent upon the agility of organizations in terms of how rapidly they can make adjustments to align their learning organizations with emerging technologies. To understand change, leaders must invest their time and effort into becoming aware of the trends, challenges and emergent technologies as they arise. Unfortunately, educational organizations are too often inward-looking and fearful of change. Leaders must convey to their constituents (faculty, students, parents and communities) the benefits of change and through the successful adoption of appropriate technologies. To be effective in this task, leaders must stay ahead through their own research and to be role-models for change by developing expertise in the application of digital technologies to their learning space.
5. Being an edleader and a consultant, what do you suggest should be a starting point for school transformation? When do you understand that the current system requires change?
Change starts with recognition of what is possible. It is not necessarily comfortable for organizations to understand that disruption and a real examination of current practice must occur. One strategy that I recommend is the use of data. Measurement using agreed to parameters is enlightening and often disruptive. Beyond that, I see tremendous potential in “big data” solutions that bring us close to effective predictive analytics. Organizations that do not measure their performance are the most challenging to redirect towards success.
6. From your experience and practices, walk us through some of the great ways ed leaders can use EdTech as a Branding Tool?
Educational leaders must come to grips with this reality of the digital age – their brand (either personal or institutional) has no credibility with the use of edtech tools and applications, especially social media. Deborah Maue, Vice President for Strategic Marketing and Communications at Columbia College in Chicago, recently wrote that “Brand strategy requires defining what you are. And by saying, “This is what we are,” you’re also saying, “This is what we’re not.” The last thing you want is to be considered weak or ineffective in the use of technology.
7. What are some of your favorite tools for professional learning and development?
Obviously one of the most essential platforms for education would be the learning management systems (LMS). Once considered primarily for online learning, I consider an effective LMS to be essential for all educational systems.
8. What according to you are the biggest challenges for educational leader or administrator?
Of course many would point to funding as the primary issue for educational institutions and their leaders. I think there is another factor that is more significant. Here in the United States, too many citizens do not accept that public education is effective as a driver of the economy. Especially in higher education where the costs of college attendance are rising at a rate that exceeds health care costs, there is not a perceived “return on investment.” Educational leaders need to focus more upon making certain that students receive the appropriate forms of learning and that they are successful in completing their programs. Then they can incorporate student success in a robust branding campaign to.
10. What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader(s) which you follow for success?
I am a fan of Guy Kawasaki, Michael Stoner and Justin Foster (all branding strategists)
11. Talk to us about the power of new media, social media for professional development?
For contemporary professional development, we must treat social media with a sense of purpose. Using social media is definitely cool, but using it well is even better.
12. A common issue across the globe is having reluctant teachers. How do we go about best Helping Reluctant Teachers Embrace EdTech? What are the best strategies?
I have always operated with a strategy that begins with the assumption that we will never get complete buy-in from faculty for technology adoption. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who readily gravitate toward the new and embrace edtech at every opportunity. I like to work with these people and I ignore the laggards.
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