Educational Technology Leaders: Competencies for a Conceptual Age

 Introduction

Introduction and Statement of the Problem

Technology enabled K12 education has been the most debated reforms in the education sector in recent years. Introduction of Internet connected computer right from junior classes is becoming ubiquitous while allowing educators and students to interact and learn with anyone around the world thereby nullifying the need of local classrooms. The connectivity of the Internet and access to a limitless amount of information is taking the world of business and education into an age which demands not only efficient work force but also technology efficient work. The role of educational leaders has now got extended to prepare students with capability to compete on a global platform. Information and its availability through the Internet which acts as the world’s largest repository of data and information have taken this world into a Conceptual Age which corresponds to a time that celebrates creativity and an appreciation of the individual depending on the key qualities of Transformational Leadership. The education at the level of K-12 require similar pace so that it can retain its very purpose and importance. To maintain the relevancy of the education system, the wide gap between the student life style and how they are being taught in the school have to be filled. There is a struggle in the student to maintain pace in the world outside the school while the school is very much working in the mould of old education system. Outside the school, everything moves at an astonishing rate. Life is in multitasking mode with technological driven diverse and now the school is now being developed to commit all students should have equal access to the top of this new technological world irrespective of their economic back ground. The students are more predictable and we are in a position to understand more than ever about how they learn. The mapping of the human mind is quite easy now and using this technique, researches and educators have taken a deep insight to the phases of cumulative learning while each of the individual students. The use of technology can help in better communication processes thereby ensuring personal problem solving and help. Similarly, Graduate Schools of Education focus upon technology in a general way for all K-12 educators. This broad strokes approach is not adequate for the times and Graduate School attention to K-12 technology leaders is limited (Hess & Kelly, 2005). The way Graduate Schools of Education prepare K-12 technology leaders will benefit from an examination of the leadership qualities and general technology competencies currently emphasized.

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Little research documents the qualities that make K-12 technology leaders effective. Transformational Leadership receives a great deal of attention as a topic of research, as do the general qualities of effective technology leaders. However, attention to the specific and unique needs of K-12 technology leaders is sparse. The primary resource and industry standard addressing what technology competencies educational administrators should have generally is the International Society of Technical Educators’ (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A). The NETS-A, drafted in 2002, is the result of a team of educators and technology leaders from across the United States working with the U.S. Department of Education. There is no research indicating what current K-12 technology leaders value about the NETS-A. My research will gauge the utility of the qualities of Transformational Leadership and the NETS-A standards from the vantage point of current K-12 technology leaders. The purpose of this study will be to determine recommendations for Graduate Schools of Education of what they can teach and emphasize to future K-12 technology leaders, particularly relative to the leadership competencies future K-12 technology leaders will need in these roles in a Conceptual Age.

Background and Purpose of the Study

In Graduate Schools of Education, there is a great deal of general emphasis upon Transformational Leadership and the characteristics that make up an effective leader, yet there is little information as to how these characteristics would apply to future K-12 technology leaders. Hence, the purpose of my study is to extend current knowledge of educational leadership by studying which knowledge, skills, and practices K-12 technology leaders find valuable. To this end, current K-12 technology leaders will be asked to gauge the utility of the qualities of Transformational Leadership and the currently accepted standards for technology competencies for educational administrators (NETS-A). Lastly, my research will provide a resource for Graduate Schools of Education that prepare K-12 technology leaders.

Research Questions

  1. What competencies do current K-12 technology leaders find to have the most utility?
  2. Are there additional and effective competencies that are not included in NETS-A standards or the theory of Transformational Leadership?

Importance and Significance of the Study

Because technology is becoming more and more important to educational leaders in the K-12 environment in the United States, preparation of K-12 technology leaders of the future will need to include teaching the competencies of a successful educational leader generally, as well as attending to those qualities that current K-12 technology leader’s value as important. As the role of the technology leader increases, the input of current K-12 technology leaders rises in importance, to inform how Graduate Schools of Education prepare future K-12 technology leaders. My research will add to a limited body of research in this area and will examine the competencies that current K-12 technology leaders find to have the most utility.

Nature of the Study

The research methodology for this study is a Triangulation Mixed Methods design (Creswell, 2005), employing a web-based survey of K-12 technology leaders in New York State. Specifically, this Mixed Methods research methodology emerged as the most appropriate for exploring the research questions. It targets some very elementary issues that must be clearly understood so that the extent to which modern technology is meant in transforming the schools into centers with engaging curricula relevant to student needs. The technology in this case is not for the purpose of being presented as a subject rather a tool of the complete educational process especially for PK-12 students. There are reasons behind the differences between the school life of a student and his normal life that forms a non-academic lifestyle. The infiltration of technology in normal US households and the marketplace have been talked about and at the same time the lack of it in schools has been discussed. The urgency of the seamless technology integration process and how it should be implemented is the question of the hour.

The most advanced computers and software powered with greater connectivity to the Internet, and increased awareness among people including teachers and students related to the potential of computers and instructional computing and the lack of technology integration in schools has to be reduced to the lowest level. The purpose of this research is to explore technology related factors that will in the long run contribute to achieve the goal of advancing to PK-12 education with a fast-paced technology integration approach. In addition, this methodology allows for a simultaneous collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data for better reliability and validity during data collection and analysis. The emphasis of this research is upon the qualitative data, with the quantitative data collected to support it.

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Definition of Terms

Transformational Leadership. Transformational Leadership is grounded in four moral foundations: Idealized Influence/Charisma, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration (Bass and Avolio, 1993)

ISTE NETS-A Standards. The International Society of Technical Educators’ (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A), drafted in 2002, is the standard for the general technology competencies of educational administrators.

Qualitative Research. Creswell (2005) defines the Qualitative Research as follows: “an inquiry approach useful for the exploring and understanding a central phenomenon. To learn about this phenomenon, the inquirer asks participants broad, general questions… and analyzes the information for description and themes” (p. 596). This is the definition of Qualitative Research implemented herein.

Quantitative Research. Creswell (2005) defines the Quantitative Research as follows: “an inquiry approach useful for describing trends and explaining the relationships among variables found in the literature” (p. 597). This is the definition of Quantitative Research implemented herein.

Triangulation Mixed Methods Design. Creswell (2005) defines the purpose of the Triangulation Mixed Methods Design in this way: “to simultaneously collect both quantitative and qualitative data, to merge the data, and use the results to understand a research problem. A basic rationale for this design is that one data collection form supplies strengths to offset the weaknesses of the other form” (p. 514). It is this definition of Triangulation Mixed Methods Design that is used in this study, as qualitative and quantitative data will be collected, with the quantitative data serving to validate and support the qualitative data.

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Conceptual Age. The Conceptual Age is a term attributed to Daniel Pink (2005) which refers to the age following the Information Age. The Information Age refers to the period when the ubiquitous access to information that came with the introduction of the Internet connected computer arose. The Conceptual Age is defined as that period immediately succeeding the Information Age, where appreciation of a global context, soft skills, a moral compass, the Transformational Leader and technology benchmarks are of great value to a post-Internet connected world.

Assumptions and Limitations

This study assumes that the responses of participants are their own and genuine. Follow up contact with participants will occur to resolve any inconsistencies that may arise in the collected data. A limitation of this study is that the number of participants is not large. Specifically, there are 28 participating K-12 Technology Leaders. Another limitation of this study is that participants work in school districts that have a professional relationship with the researcher’s employer. For this reason, contact with participants will make it clear that my study has no connection to my employer and participation is voluntary.

Organization of the Remaining Chapters of the Proposal

The remaining chapters of this proposal consist of the literature review, the methodology, data collection and analysis, and concludes with the results, conclusions and recommendations for further research.

Literature review

Introduction

Technology in Education in the Industrial Age focused primarily upon hardware and software, the tools of education (De Vaney, 1998; Hollenbeck, 1998; Reiser, 2001). The focus solely upon tools eroded when computers began to be able to communicate with each other, to share information in a way that was never possible before. Technology in Education in this Information Age focused upon access to data and to new and existing knowledge, courtesy of the internet-connected computer (Hew, 2004; Yong, 1998). Now that the world of business, education and our personal lives are connected via the growth and ubiquity of the Internet, technology is allowing people around the world to let their computers do the rote and mechanical tasks that were once time consuming, freeing them to engage in more creative pursuits that distinguish the individual. Technology within and outside of Education is now entering this Conceptual Age, where global context, soft skills, a moral compass, the Transformational Leader and technology benchmarks are its capital.

Rationale for the Research

Because technology is becoming more and more important to educational leaders in the K-12 environment in the United States, preparation of K-12 technology leaders of the future will need to include teaching the competencies of a successful educational leader generally, as well as attending to those qualities that current K-12 technology leader’s value as important. As the role of the technology leader increases, the input of current K-12 technology leaders rises in importance, to inform how Graduate Schools of Education prepare future K-12 technology leaders. My research will add to a limited body of research in this area and will examine the competencies that current K-12 technology leaders find to have the most utility.

Exploring the Foundations of the Field

There was a time when technology support staff and leaders could get away with not having soft skills, being user friendly and considerate to non-technical folks, because there were so few people with advanced technological skill sets. There was also far less integration of technology with curricula, with technology being an add-on, or consisting of speakers and microphones for presentations, etc. Soft skills were a definite benefit, but certainly not a necessity in the Information Age. In this new Conceptual Age, “the capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous—the ‘right brain’ qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning—increasingly will determine who flourishes” (Pink, 2005, p. 3). There are a number of factors leading to the necessity for creativity, soft skills and right-brained thinking for our technology leaders to succeed, particularly as the Internet-connected computer has begun to provide the local access and ability for individuals to succeed and compete globally.

Accordingly, the globalization of the Internet has changed the landscape for how the world educates and does business. A task of educators now is to prepare students to thrive locally and compete globally (Friedman, 2007). Consequently, it is now more important than ever for future K-12 technology leaders to appreciate the role of knowledge in a Conceptual Age, as “facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What beings to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact” (Pink, 2005, p. 100). Hence, context enriched by emotion is an essential concern that future K-12 technology leaders can embrace. Likewise, when information is so readily available to our students, there is an opportunity for educators to help students to define who they are, to find their places in the world and to stand out in a highly competitive and global culture (Friedman, 2007).

At the same time, the Conceptual Age creates an opportunity for K-12 Technology Leaders to empower those around them and as Jim Collins (2001) puts it, to get the right people on the bus and get the wrong people off. Graduate Schools of Education can prepare future K-12 technology leaders to succeed and appreciate the qualities that are necessary to support teaching and learning with technology in a Conceptual Age. To this end, Daniel Pink (2005) writes about moving from the Information to the Conceptual Age and discusses the impact of Internet-connectivity, the impact of an abundance of goods and services on our lives, and the heightened role of Asian economies. With this in view, Pink writes of the automation of routine tasks that free individuals to concentrate on higher order thinking skills, and what he calls high concept and high touch:

High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning. (p. 51-52)

Therefore, the qualities of high concept and high touch, embedded in Transformational Leadership, are important for future K-12 technology leaders to be aware of, if they are to provide support for the students growing up in this environment that is far different from any that preceded it. Likewise, most educational leaders today are still in the category of what Marc Prensky (2006) calls Digital Immigrants, or those who were not born and raised with the Internet, what Prensky calls the Digital Natives. In particular, the evolution of the Internet has changed how students learn and K-12 technology leaders are poised to attend to this difference, understanding that the people we are educating and supporting have evolved so quickly and dramatically that we are able to create new ways of viewing our professional roles. Attention to cultural differences between natives and immigrants and the importance for educational leaders to acknowledge and meet the evolved needs of this generation of students are emerging issues that deserve the attention of Graduate Schools of Education and getting the right people on the bus will be increasingly more important.

Equally important in this Conceptual Age, the new paradigm for what constitutes a K-12 technology leader will be far more political than it ever was in the past, as soft skills and the perceptions of our peers grow increasingly important in an age when facilitation of knowledge takes on a heightened role. Additionally, extending to all of their personal and professional interactions, the value of being strong and ethical from within will continue to emerge in importance as the K-12 technology leader attends to all of the stakeholders in their cultures of learning. Specifically, educational leaders are leaders in cultures of change (Fullan, 2001) with technology now integrated and no longer “in addition to.” In contrast, K-12 technology leaders were once unique, yet now all educational administrators will have to be technically proficient. As a result, the Conceptual Age approach to emphasize technology integration and soft skills, in addition to technical knowledge and general competence, will take on an elevated role as Graduate Schools of Education prepare all educational leaders for technological proficiency, specifically the future K-12 technology leader. The future K-12 technology leaders will also benefit from instruction relative to the leadership qualities necessary to educate students in a Conceptual Age, where transformational, creative, empathetic, right-brained qualities are incredibly valuable and of increasing importance in a flat world (Friedman, 2007).

This modeling of education on internet technology actually conveys the direction to which the school is currently approaching. Being the leader, the principal must model professional as well as educational growth by participating in various professional learning activities, especially in the field of science and technology applications so that the other teachers and supporting staff would get rid of their fear, apathy, or resistance when they are being told to adopt the technology and making learning more of technology integrated solution (Paben, 2002). These educational leaders or Principals should always be the p[art of solution rather than the problem when integrating technology. The common nation is that principals without the knowledge of basic technology skills are more of an obstacle to any future technology integration. But the same person can provide efficient leadership by becoming aware of basic technology skills and some imaginative thought process. This includes creation of a vision and then sharing and implementing the vision through arrangement of proper funding. Now things are being taken for planning the process with proper coordination from teachers so that the curriculum development and training can be undertaken for administrator is very much established but still what the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have developed is The National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators i.e., (NET-A) that was released in 2002, defines:

  1. Leadership and Vision
  2. Learning and Teaching
  3. Productivity and Professional Practice
  4. Support, Management, and Operations
  5. Assessment and Evaluation
  6. Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues

NETS-A standards provide a clear statement and parameter that would help in analyzing and measuring the knowledge of school administrators and what more should now be added so that the technology could be easily be induced into the education system This specific information will provide ample guidance to the administrator so that his efforts in attaining basic technological skills and sufficient competency over the required knowledge base for same would result desirable result. Administrator’s acquaintance with these issues and its impact of technological standards actually gives an in depth view of very basic platform over which administrators’ knowledge stands. His knowledge and understanding of technology is perhaps the most important factor that determines whether the assimilation of education and technology will work in the classroom or not (Hughes & Zachariah, 2001). Principals who are technologically sound are more comfortable with the youth and children of today who are very much tech savvy and habitual of using hi-tech electronic equipments. They generally work in direct contact with students thereby the exchange of ideas from both side could be achieved and hence the possibility of better result from this technology implementation would be achieved. The administrator would also convince the students in cooperating with the teachers and other important elements of the complete implementation staff. The administrator being an education professional is very much aware of facts that the effectiveness of the technology integration is a very much a variable depending on administrators’ competencies. The development of this specific and well researched competencies helps in providing proper guidelines for establishing the administrator to maintain technology leadership and hence his assistants in technology integration in schools will result far reaching results of technology literacy and enhanced student learning. The educators’ perceptions of principal technology leadership competencies at the later stage is an important factor behind the successful integration of technology ensuring smooth rather flow of knowledge and information.

Finally, the role of creativity and the individual are emerging as important in this Conceptual Age. Graduate Schools of Education have an opportunity to prepare K-12 technology leaders in a manner that attends to the emerging need to make individuals feel comfortable with technology, in place of what was once an emphasis primarily concerned with setting up new systems and how the technology can accomplish the rote/repetitive tasks of old. In addition, this attention to the individual may empower educational leaders to focus upon higher order tasks and the real hands-on pieces that are so very important to educational environments. An emphasis upon creativity and appreciation of individuals who work with and for the K-12 technology leader are qualities of value to the Conceptual Age and key attributes of Transformational Leadership. The central theme of my research focuses upon the relationship of the qualities of Transformational Leadership and the industry standard competencies for educational administrators, the NETS-A, as they apply to the K-12 technology leader. A related theme of this research is a focus upon how Graduate Schools of Education prepare K-12 technology leaders generally.

Research Questions Relationship to Major Themes

The first question of importance to this study relates to the competencies K-12 technology leaders find to have the most utility relative to the work they do, that are based upon a theoretical framework developed by converging the NETS-A standards and the qualities of Transformational Leadership. Transformational Leadership, as outlined in the previous section, embraces the same qualities as those that are important to the Conceptual Age. The NETS-A are industry standards for all educational administrators. However, the NETS-A is generalized and has not been examined for how it relates to the work of K-12 technology leaders. Consequently, my research has as a major theme to converge the NETS and the qualities of Transformational Leader and gauge the utility of each from the vantage point of the K-12 Technology Leader.

Next, as the NETS-A qualities are generalized for all educational administrators by Graduate Schools of Education and as this research seeks to inform how Graduate Schools of Education prepare K-12 technology leaders, the next major theme addresses Graduate School preparation of K-12 technology leaders. Consequently, the next two sections address each of the major theme areas. In addition, the second research question asks if there are additional and effective competencies that are not included in the NETS-A standards or the theory of Transformational Leadership. Hence, a Mixed Method, web-based survey of a converged theoretical framework will ask participants to indicate the utility of what is set before them. Equally important, via the qualitative web-based survey responses, participants have the opportunity to expand upon the items within the theoretical framework that concludes this literature review and this data will be analyzed for the emergence of new themes and consequently, additional competencies.

Major Theme: Transformational Leadership and the NETS-A Standards

Coined by James MacGregor Burns in 1978, Transformational Leadership involves inspiring employees in meaningful, often symbolic ways (Ramsden, 2002; Bolman and Deal, 2003). Transformational leaders go beyond managing and the extrinsic needs of employees by embracing the qualities that they wish to instill in their subordinates, often serving as living symbols of how to do things (Jenkins, 2003). Additionally, Transformational Leadership is about empowering the employee to do well and take pride and ownership in the work that he or she is engaged in (Burns, 1978). This type of leadership attends to the constantly changing world around us by encouraging the leader to derive strength from within and encourage the same with employees. Finally, Transformational Leadership is conscientious; it asks that the leader and the employee think beyond managing and simple task completion, toward a greater and richer appreciation of the environment, the value of the work to that environment and the value to the systematic whole of the college or university setting in this Conceptual Age.

Specifically, Transformational Leadership consists of four moral foundations: Idealized Influence/Charisma, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration (Bass & Avolio, 1993). Hence, Transformational Leadership emphasizes an appreciation of the individual and the need to stimulate higher-order thinking skills, key elements necessary for K-12 technology leaders to succeed and educate in a Conceptual Age world altered by globalization and an emphasis upon soft skills that arose after the proliferation of the Internet connected computer. More over, solid and consistent technological understandings, or competencies, are also of value to the K-12 technology leader, in addition to soft skills and right-brain creativity.

At the same time, little research exists that addresses the technology competencies important to educational administrators, as the International Society of Technical Educators’ (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) were drafted in 2002 and have yet to be updated (Anderson & Dexter, 2005). Specifically, the NETS-A standards provide an excellent general map of the technological competencies important to an educator (Ertmer et al., 2002; Yu & Durrington, 2006). With this in mind, a challenge for Graduate Schools of Education is to apply the known technology standards for administrators to K-12 technology leaders. An equally important challenge for Graduate Schools of Education is to attend to the demands upon educators brought about by the Internet connected computer and the Conceptual Age, emphasizing the qualities grounded in Transformational Leadership.

In conclusion, my research seeks to converge the two, the NETS-A standards for administrators and the qualities of Transformational Leadership into a single framework, to ask current K-12 technology leaders what they value as important in their roles. As a result, by providing Graduate Schools of Education with a framework informed by how current K-12 technology leaders perceive themselves within said framework, they will have an additional resource with which to reference when preparing future K-12 technology leaders.

Major Theme: Graduate School Preparation of K-12 Technology Leaders

Graduate Schools of Education focus on technology in a general way for all K-12 educators. Furthermore, technology has become increasingly important to how K-12 leaders are prepared, yet there is little research addressing the K-12 technology leader specifically and research suggest that this is necessary to implement technology within a school district effectively (Anderson & Dexter, 2005). For example, the NETS-A standards, drafted for all educational administrators, do not address the unique competencies necessary to perform any one specific K-12 leadership role such as a Principal, a K-12 technology leader, etc. This is also true of research that focuses upon educational leadership, as the qualities of Transformational Leadership are not specific to K-12 technology leaders, but broadly apply to all educators. Specifically, this broad focus is reflected in the mindsets of Graduate Schools of Education, as they are preparing educational leaders to meet these broad standards at the expense of comprehensive training in key areas (Lashway, 2002; Van Patten & Holt, 2002), K-12 technology leadership for example. Although an exception is Teacher Education, as there is a concerted effort among Graduate Schools of Education to prepare teachers to integrate technology (Cohen & Brunner, 2000), yet this same focus of effort does not extend to the administrators who make curricular, purchasing and hiring decisions for teaching and learning.

N,ext there is research that suggests that the broad attention that Graduate Schools of Education apply to technology is not adequate in the 496 administrator preparation programs in the United States (Hess & Kelly, 2005). Likewise, this is consistent with a general finding in the research that Graduate Schools of Education are not doing an adequate job to develop and maintain educational administration and leadership preparation programs across the board (Lashway, 2003; Levine, 2005; Murphy and Vriesenga, 2004; Young , et al., 2002). Finally, a possible reason for why K-12 technology leadership preparation programs have not yet attended to the needs of K-12 technology leaders may stem from a general lack of attentiveness by Graduate Schools of Education toward educational leadership research and preparation in general (Levine, 2005).

Summary and Theoretical Framework

My research seeks to gauge the utility of the qualities of Transformational Leadership and NETS-A standards from the perspective of current K-12 technology leaders. A goal of this exploration will be to recommend to Graduate Schools of Education specific competencies that future K-12 technology leaders should acquire to be successful in these roles, in a Conceptual Age. To this end, my research began by comparing the qualities of Transformational Leadership and the NETS-A standards. Specifically, my research includes the characteristics of each of the four factors that define Transformational Leadership—Idealized Influence/Charisma, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration (Bass and Avolio, 1993; Roberts, 2005). Also included in this comparison are each of the specific competencies of the 6 NETS-A standards, Leadership and Vision, Learning and Teaching, Productivity and Professional Practice, Support, Management, and Operations, Assessment and Evaluation, and Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues (ISTE, 2002). Extracted and organized, specific characteristics arose at the points of convergence. In short, what resulted is a theoretical framework based upon and informed by these points of convergence, presented in Table 1 by the four factors that define Transformational Leadership. In addition, the current K-12 technology leaders in this study will have this framework to evaluate. More precisely, for each specific competency in the four areas, the K-12 Technology Leaders will rate them quantitatively via a Likert scale to assess their utility. In addition, the K-12 technology leaders will evaluate the competencies qualitatively to explain the importance of each and the relevance to the work that they do. Moreover, it is via the qualitative responses of the participants where emergent themes and possible new competencies can emerge. Finally, a web-based survey will collect both the quantitative and qualitative data and the quantitative data will serve to primarily support and validate the qualitative responses.

Table 1. Leadership Characteristics of the Technology Leader: Convergence of NETS-A & Transformational Leadership
1) Desirable Influential Characteristics of the Technology Leader
(Idealized Influence/Charisma):
The Technology Leader will have an articulated vision with an informed sense of importance to energize the organization’s efforts (NETS-A: I, III, IV; TL: II).
The Technology Leader will change the organization by focusing on action (NETS-A: III; TL: II).
The Technology Leader will communicate values/norms supporting his or her articulated vision (NETS-A: I, III, IV; TL: II).
The Technology Leader will be both a creative and imaginative leader (NETS-A: II; TL: II).
The Technology Leader will see the value of role modeling (NETS-A: I, III, VI; TL: II).
The Technology Leader will set high standards for emulation (NETS-A: II; TL: II).
The Technology Leader will promote a shared vision and values (NETS-A: I; TL: II).
The Technology Leader’s vision is grounded in shared meaning and purpose (NETS-A: I, IV; TL: II).

2) Desirable Motivational Characteristics of the Technology Leader
(Inspirational Motivation):
The Technology Leader will promote and appreciate culture shaping/value shaping (NETS-A: IV; TL: IM).
The Technology Leader will demonstrate an enhanced/elevated commitment to common purpose (NETS-A: II, III; TL: IM).
The Technology Leader will demonstrate high moral/ethical standards (NETS-A: II, IV; TL: IM).
The Technology Leader will demonstrate a higher level of judgment, sacrifice, and effort for the common purpose (NETS-A: II, IV; TL: IM).
The Technology Leader will be committed to harmony and charity and whether good works are being done (NETS-A: IV; TL: IM).
The Technology Leader will provide followers with challenges and meaning for engaging in shared goals (NETS-A: I, III, IV; TL: IM).

3) Desirable Intellectual Characteristics of the Technology Leader
(Intellectual Stimulation):
The Technology Leader will be able to break from the past when necessary (NETS-A: I, II; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will convert followers into leaders and leaders into change agents (NETS-A: I; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will promote the development of the follower (NETS-A: II, III; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will empower peers and staff (NETS-A: I, II; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will seek out ways to generate more creative solutions to problems (NETS-A: I, II; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will help followers to question assumptions (NETS-A: I, II; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will move both self and follower to higher more fundamental values that provide transcendental purpose (NETS-A: II; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader will seek out new ways of problem finding/solving (NETS-A: III; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader is willing to take risks (NETS-A: I, II; TL: IS).
The Technology Leader is a Teacher (NETS-A: II; TL: IS).

4) The Technology Leader’s Appreciation of the Individual
(Individualized Consideration):
The Technology Leader celebrates the individual (NETS-A: II; TL: IC).
The Technology Leader will demonstrate a high degree of personal concern for the followers needs (NETS-A: II; TL: IC).
The Technology Leader will encourage followers by promoting shared values (NETS-A: I, IV; TL: IC).
The Technology Leader will provide coaching, mentoring, and growth opportunities (NETS-A: II; TL: IC).
The Technology Leader will encourage and promote self-reward, understanding, development within followers (NETS-A: III; TL: IC).
The Technology Leader treats each follower as an individual (NETS-A: II; TL: IC).
The Technology Leader will promote unity in diversity (NETS-A: II; TL: IC).

Note. NETS-A Legend: I = Leadership and Vision. II = Learning and Teaching. III = Productivity and Professional Practice. IV = Support, Management, and Operations. V = Assessment and Evaluation. VI = Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues.
Transformational Leadership (TL) Legend: II = Idealized Influence/Charisma. IM = Inspirational Motivation. IS = Intellectual Stimulation. IC = Individualized Consideration

Methodology

Introduction

My study will ask current K-12 technology leaders to gauge the utility of the qualities of Transformational Leadership and the currently accepted standards for technology competencies that educational administrators should have (NETS-A) via a mixed-method web-based survey of a converged theoretical framework, with the express purpose to inform how Graduate Schools of Education prepare individuals to serve in these roles.

Research Design

This study will be a Mixed Method, researcher-administered study employing a web-based survey of K-12 technology leaders in New York State, utilizing both closed-ended and open-ended questions, in addition to follow up email communication if a need for any clarification arises. Specifically, this research will employ a Triangulation Mixed Methods design (Creswell, 2005) with a simultaneous collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data. The quantitative results will be collected and compared to the qualitative data with the intent to validate the qualitative data with descriptive statistics. The emphasis during data analysis will be upon the qualitative themes that emerge, supported by the statistical trends from the quantitative data. Finally, trends among participant qualitative responses will be collected and examined to see what new competencies may emerge.

Specific Triangulation Mixed Method design for this study.
Figure 1: Specific Triangulation Mixed Method design for this study.

Legend:

Box = data collection and results

Uppercase letters/Lowercase letters = major emphasis, minor emphasis

Arrow = sequence

+ = concurrent or simultaneous

Sampling Design: Selection Criteria and Setting

My research employs purposeful and homogenous sampling and the participants are all of the K-12 technology leaders served by the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). Incidentally, those individuals officially in charge of technology within a school district and often have titles such as Director of Technology, Coordinator of Technology, etc., define K-12 technology leaders in this context. Specifically, the WSWHE BOCES, a subset of the New York State Education Department, serves 31 school districts in a five-county region of New York State and represents more than a quarter of the state in size. A random sample of the technology leaders served by the WSWHE BOCES would have been too small as there are only 28 technology leaders in addition to the researcher, so the whole population will be included. In addition, participants were selected because they are accessible to the researcher professionally and willing and able to contribute. Finally, this research can potentially benefit participant school districts. Specifically, the technology leaders can use the results of the study to learn from them and possibly share the results with their school districts at their discretion.

Measures

The converged NETS-A competencies and the qualities of Transformational Leadership in the form of a new theoretical framework (see Table 1) will be entered into web-based survey software. For each item/competency, the participant is to quantitatively rate the item’s utility to the work that he or she does, via a 1 (for least) to 5 (most) Likert scale rating for each of the 31 items as demonstrated in Table 2. More importantly, each closed-ended quantitative item will have an accompanying open-ended qualitative component. Specifically, the participant is to elaborate as to how each item does or does not have utility for the work that he or she does. In particular, each open-ended component will provide the respondents with the opportunity to comment on how they perceive/value each item and they will be encouraged to make suggestions for changes, additions, etc. In addition, the quantitative data generated by the closed ended component of each survey item will add to the reliability of each open-ended item component, if the responses are consistent. If not, then follow up emails will be employed for clarification to ensure reliability and to add to the validity of the results. Equally important, if participants decline to add clarification to any conflicting items, the items in question will not be used for data analysis. The choice of a Triangulation Mixed Method design for this study also adds to the validity of this research because two forms of data will be used during data analysis/interpretation, which will corroborate survey item responses. As the sample population is known very well by the researcher to be highly technical, preferential of electronic communication and very busy, a web-based survey stood out as the ideal instrument for the collection of data.

Further, the researcher’s employer, the WSWHE BOCES, is fully aware and supportive of this dissertation research. The researcher is a certified school district administrator and technology leader, providing professional guidance to the school districts of the K-12 Technology Leaders involved in this study. Each participant will be notified that they are in no way obligated to participate in this study, but will be encouraged to do so based upon the value to their occupation. The researcher’s role during the study will be to gain permission of the WSWHE BOCES to contact participants, to contact participants for their permission, to distribute the web-based survey and to share the results of the study with the participants after the fact, all the while maintaining the anonymity of participants. For any inconsistencies that may arise during data analysis, individual participants will be contacted for clarification.

Table 2. Web-Based Survey Item Sample
1a) On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the importance of the following statement to the work that you do, with 1 indicating least important and 5 indicating most important. Click the radio button for your selected answer.
The Technology Leader will have an articulated vision with an informed sense of importance to energize the organization’s efforts. 1 2 3 4 5

Least Most
Important Important

1b) In the text box below, please explain why the above item is or is not important to the work that you do. This is also an opportunity for you to comment on how you value/perceive this item. You are encouraged to make suggestions for changes, additions, etc., as you deem appropriate.

Data Collection Procedures

When conducting surveys on the web, a best practice is to display the questions in a simple manner that is easy to navigate for the participants, which also does not require a great deal of technical expertise (Dillman, 2007). Even though the technological acumen of K-12 technology leaders is very high, the questions will be presented in a way that is as simple to access and complete as possible. Specifically, the resource found that best demonstrates the qualities of a well-developed web-based survey is Zoomerang zPro (http://info.zoomerang.com). Of the available web-based survey software packages, Zoomerang zPro offers the best navigation, question presentation simplicity and overall accessibility emphasized by Dillman (2007). Next, Zoomerang zPro also stands out because it allows for the creation of customizable emails, reminders and thank you notices. Additionally, Zoomerang zPro is a secure website and the web-based survey data will only be accessible by the researcher. Further more, the participants will take the web-based survey individually and will not be able to see their own or anyone else’s results. Each participant will be informed that his or her responses are secure, visible only to the researcher and shared with no one. With data collected via Zoomerang zPro, the researcher will replace the participant’s names with a numeric identifier from 1 to 28 for each, to ensure and retain anonymity during data analysis. Additionally, the data is to be stored on a password-protected computer accessible only to the researcher.

Further, each participant will be asked via phone or email if they are willing to participate in this web-based survey. The participants will be encouraged to participate in two ways: 1) the researcher will share with them why this research is important and will add value to what they do professionally. And 2), the participants will be notified that each participant who completes the web-based survey will receive a five dollar gift certificate to the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop. In addition, each K-12 technology leader will then receive an individualized email invitation that will contain a link to the Zoomerang zPro survey with a request that the survey be completed within two week’s time. A reminder will be sent after one week to each participant who has not yet completed the web-based survey. Upon completion, each participant will receive an email thanking him or her for their time, which will also include information relating that the researcher will contact them via email or phone for any follow up clarification that may be needed for individual open-ended questions.

Finally, the web-based survey will be pilot tested by two academic administrators employed by the WSWHE BOCES who serve in leadership roles relative to technology. These individuals provide support and services to the population that will be included for my study and are therefore well suited to participate as a pilot group. One of these people is in charge of Learning Technologies for the WSWHE BOCES and is responsible for buying hardware and software for the participant technology leaders of this study; the other person is in charge of Instructional Technology Training to the participant technology leaders’ school districts. Once the web-based survey questions are in a near-final draft form, these two individuals will be asked to complete the survey individually and then to provide written and/or oral feedback about the competencies and the theoretical framework being developed and how it could best be ordered and arranged for presentation to school district technology leaders.

Data Analysis

Evaluation of the data for each question is to occur in two ways. The responses to the open-ended questions will be coded by the researcher and an exploration of the themes that emerge will ensue. The text will be analyzed using a coding process “to make sense of the data, divide it into text…segments, label the segments with codes, examine codes for overlap and redundancy, and collapse these codes into broad themes” (Creswell, 2005, p. 236). The single-item scores for the closed-ended questions will be used to support the written responses of the participants and may be entered into a statistical analyses program to elicit descriptive statistics and guide the coding and analysis of the open-ended questions. The qualitative data in this study will have greater weight than the quantitative.

Limitations of Methodology

A limitation to using a web-based survey is that there can be technical requirements that participants must meet to complete the survey. Putting a survey online also presupposes a certain degree of comfort and competence using an internet-enabled computer. The survey will be presented in the simplest and most straightforward manner possible to ensure that all participants will be able to complete the survey from an internet-enabled computer of their choosing. The sample of participants is highly technical, decreasing the likelihood that there would be a situation where the survey might be too difficult for a participant to complete, but every precaution will be taken to ensure consistency and optimal ease of use.

As this research will employ a Triangulation Mixed Methods design, there are limitations that are specific to this particular design choice as it is difficult to conduct research that utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods. In addition, given that data will be collected and analyzed concurrently via both method and that the quantitative data is meant primarily to validate the qualitative responses, it may be difficult to resolve discrepancies that may arise between the quantitative and qualitative responses to individual survey response items (Creswell, 2003). Follow up emails and/or interviews may be necessary to resolve any discrepancies.

Another possible limitation of this research is that participants may feel obligated to participate in the study because of the professional relationship between the researcher and the K-12 Technology Leaders. Finally, it will be made clear to participants that they are in now way obligated to participate in this research study and that participation will support the pursuit of the researcher’s academic goal of earning a doctorate and is not considered a part of the professional relationship.

Expected Findings and Ethical Considerations

I expect to find that the relationship between the converged NETS-A competencies and the qualities of Transformational Leadership will come together to form the foundation of a theoretical framework that will add knowledge to Graduate Schools of Education across the United States relative to how they prepare future K-12 technology leaders. I expect to find that the results of the web-based survey will support the importance of the NETS-A competencies and the qualities of Transformational Leadership, revealing additional competencies and areas of new knowledge to inform this framework and the work of Graduate Schools of Education. My research will provide a resource to Graduate Schools of Education looking to determine what leadership qualities and competencies to consider when designing programs/curricula relative to K-12 technology leadership preparation. The overarching goal of this research is to add knowledge to a limited body of research and illuminate what current K-12 technology leaders can contribute toward the preparation of their future successors in Graduate Schools of Education.

The procedures for the protection of human participants will be heeded as follows: all responses to the web-based survey will be and remain anonymous. Next, only the researcher will have access to the data entered by the participants and used for data analysis. Similarly, the participants are evaluating existing competencies/qualities of leadership that are relevant to their field and while this is not necessarily sensitive information, the participant responses will be kept confidential. Moreover, confidentiality is accomplished by having the data accessible to only the researcher and by assigning a random numeric identifier to participants to ensure the anonymity of their responses throughout the research process. Finally, the initial contact email shall clearly indicate that the researcher will maintain participant anonymity indefinitely.

Timelines for each Research Activity

The data collection process will take approximately two weeks, as the first email to participants will contain a link to the survey and a request to complete within two weeks. Data analysis will take from two to four weeks. In addition, the data reporting will take two to four weeks. In short, the entire data collection, analysis and reporting process shall take six to ten weeks.

References

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