Last week the Google for Education Transformation Center was announced as a hub and launch pad for school change. Google has long been involved in pushing technology to improve and modernize education, but with the launch of the Center it hopes to spur a community of educational thought leaders to action.
Persuading schools to adopt innovative technology is not as simple as it may seem, there are often cultural obstacles that need to be overcome and leadership that embraces positive change and strategies to bring all stakeholders on board through transparency and learning programs.
Technology can't just be forced on educators, it needs to be first embraced as a solution by educators to a perceived problem. Finally, school leaders need to budget for change and improvement, so that technology is about student progress and not funding reallocation.
"Over the past few years we’ve had the privilege to work closely with thousands of schools that are seeking to improve and innovate with the help of technology," said Liz Anderson, who is Google's Global Lead for their Education Adoption Programs. "Every school is different, but we’ve heard a lot of common themes from educators: that change is hard; that change is about a whole lot more than just technology; and that obstacles are often similar across districts."
She added, "School leaders face many of the same challenges and opportunities, but often have limited ways to share with — and learn from — each other. That’s why we’ve created a new hub for school leaders to share ideas, resources, and stories: The Google for Education Transformation Center."
The 7 Critical Areas for School Change
Google brought educational leaders together from all over the US to create a "transformation framework" guiding schools to improving education through innovation and technology:
- Vision - School change only happens when there is a strong vision at the start. When a school has a clear vision, it means the leader has ensured that the school and wider community are working together toward shared goals for the future.
- Learning - School leaders empower their teams to create a set of instructional practices, curricula, assessments, and learning experiences that put students at the center - that engage learners deeply and meet their individual and collective needs.
- Culture - Successful school leaders create structures, rituals, stories, and symbols that foster a culture of innovation and encourage people to learn from failure and success.
- Technology - Technology is only one enabler of school change, but it's a critical part. School leaders find, test, and gain their team's support for the right technology (tools and processes) to meet the school’s vision.
- Professional Development - Teachers have a lot on their plates. School leaders provide educators with effective professional development and ongoing coaching focused on applying tools and practices to meet student needs.
- Funding & Sustainability - School leaders create a sustainable budget, identify a range of funding sources, and seek savings and reallocation opportunities that align directly to student goals.
- Community - Schools serve diverse communities made up of parents, families, businesses, government, nonprofits, and residents. Throughout all stages of the transformation process, leaders ensure these partners support the school and the vision.
Rich Ord is Co-founder of StudentGrowthWorks.org, a technology platform for monitoring student growth and making IEP's meaningful.