Leading School Transformation using Digital Technologies – A focus on the Principal!

Leading school transformation requires principals to understand the relationship between content, pedagogy and technology. A process of transformation requires school leaders to reconsider the nature of school education and the ways in which learning can become more technologically enabled (Moyle 2010). Contemporary research suggests principals need to be aware of these elements when undertaking a process of school transformation:

i)                    Content development is necessary in order to facilitate the interactive potential ICT can offer in the teaching and learning process (Kozma 2008; Rotherham and Willingham 2010);

ii)                  Consideration of Pedagogy which capitalises upon the advantage of technology to enable for educational change (Hargreaves 2005; Lyons 2007; Moyle 2010) ; and,

iii)                How technology can support learning (McLoughlin and Lee 2009; Drexler 2010).


It is reasonable to expect principals to have a certain skill level with digital technologies. It may be unreasonable to expect principals to be the most knowledgeable and skilful user of digital technologies in any school setting; however, beyond traditional notions of technical literacy, principals need to attain knowledge and skills which enable them to be seen as an authentic leader of school transformation. Principals are required to demonstrate a broad understanding of information technology and how it can be used productively in a school setting. Also they are required to recognize when information technology can assist or impede learning, and to continually adapt to changes in information technology.


The area of ‘Content’ provides a dilemma for principals. In the current educational environment where MySchools, NAPLAN and Board of Studies syllabi requirements in New South Wales receive significant attention, schools are pressured by the government to utilise Digital Education Revolution (DER) funding to “contribute sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world” (DEEWR 2011). I ask myself, how much time, effort and energy should my school dedicate to NAPLAN testing when, at the same time I am trying to lead school transformation?


In the area of ‘Pedagogy’, and with a commitment to school transformation, a principal needs to oversee the development of student centred pedagogies, such as inquiry-based learning and project-based activities, which capitlise upon the advantage of digital technology. Such approaches assist students with their development of 21st century skills including critical thinking, collaboration and group work. With this, principals are required to lead teachers towards understanding their role; a role that lies at the intersection of technology, pedagogy and content, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Mishra and Koehler 2008).


In essence, content and skills are not separate but intertwined, and both are interconnected with pedagogy and technology when striving for school transformation. The implications for principals when striving to achieve school transformation are:

i)                    The need to develop their own skills with digital technology;

ii)                  A requirement to identify the balance between content and skills; and,

iii)                A willingness to ensure the school adopts pedagogies which capitalise upon the advantage of digital technologies.


Any principal overseeing school transformation requires informed strategies which promote an understanding of the opportunities and constraints of a range of digital technologies, and how they support pedagogical strategies suitable to school transformation (Mishra and Koehler 2008).





DEEWR (2011). “Digital Education Revolution.” Retrieved February 11, 2011., 2011, from http://www.deewr.gov.au/schooling/digitaleducationrevolution/Pages/default.aspx

Drexler, W. (2010). “The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy.” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 26(3): 369-385.

Hargreaves, A. (2005). “Teaching in the knowledge society.” Professional Voice 4(1): 11-25.

Kozma, R. (2008). “Comparative analysis of policies for ICT in education.” International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education: 1083-1096.

Lyons, T. (2007). “The Professional Development, Resource and Support Needs of Rural and Urban ICT Teachers.” Australian Educational Computing 22(2) , p. 22-31.

McLoughlin, C. and M. Lee, . (2009). “Personalised and
self regulated learning in the Web 2.0 era: International exemplars of innovative pedagogy using social software.” Educational Technology 26(1): 28-43.

Mishra, P. and M. Koehler (2008). Introducing technological pedagogical content knowledge.

Moyle, K. (2010). Building Innovation: Learning with Technology. Australian education review ; 56. ACER.

Rotherham, A. and D. Willingham (2010). “21st-Century” Skills. Not New, but a Worthy Challenge.” American Educator 34(1): 17-20.




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