Reaching the unreached through Digital leadership
What changed is how leaders of many academic institutions like my academic institute IIT Kanpur saw them evolving the process of moving forward towards digital platform specially during triggering period of Covid 19 pandemic.
Society is changing, technology is rapidly changing as a result our learners have fundamentally changed, I am observing most of the students who have resources are wired differently. Digital leadership is about a strategic mind set, set of skill and behaviors that are employed to initiate sustainable change leading to academic institution transformation and impact of social transformation. It is about creating relevant, meaningful authentic cultures of teaching and learning where academic institutions become institutions that mirror the world that are preparing our students to be successful in their work.
The pillars of digital leadership
The academic leaders should understand pillars of digital leadership, the fundamental elements for initiating and anticipating needed changes. It is about looking at characteristics of effective academic leadership and doing what we do better. Digital leadership is about empowering teachers and students to be the change. The pillars of digital leadership include communication, public relations, branding, professional learning student engagement, learning and achievement, opportunity and rethinking learning spaces and environment with new changed growth mindset. Leaders can begin to harness and leverage readily available digital tools to fundamentally and radically create a culture that works for students as opposed to one that works for us. Education for so long has been built based on control, compliancy following rules. What our digital leaders should create a whole new construct that relies on giving up control and trusting out students and staff members to begin co - constructing knowledge and learn openly and create artifacts of learning to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Some resourceful academic institutions have success stories in terms of becoming digitally rich culture for teaching and learning. Their work is guided by a fundamental question of what is best for students, focusing on what needs to be changed and how the model of doing things is designed. Earlier traditional method was based on preparing students for industrialized workforce, now there is a need for creating better culture where students voice is embraced and accepted where access to technology is leveraged to create artifacts of learning to allow students to follow their passions. It begins with the change about how we have been able to change is a short period of time which begins with empowerment. They should look for teachers and students to embrace new to change to improve the teaching and learning culture and giving staff members the autonomy in encouraging to follow their learning passion calling professional growth period. For innovation, by taking away red tapism and levels of bureaucracy giving staff members freedom to explore to take calculated risk to adapt and removing the fear of failure that is when innovation begins to prosper among students. We ourselves become more cognizant of the path that we need to create because no one was creating to determine ways in which technology could be used to support learning and not driving the instruction. Students are encouraged to bring their own devices encouraging them to take independent OpenCourseWare classes at Harvard, MIT, Stanford and rewarding them. During initial phase of Covid pandemic I talked to few bright students of IOE regarding disruption in studies and they responded to me in a depressed state whereas I found out from some students from IIT Kanpur who happily responded to me saying that they were even taking courses from independent on line OpenCourseWare classes of Harvard, MIT, Stanford with online courses of IIT K. They also told me about receiving IRs. Four crores as a support from IIT K alumni for taking care of students who needed financial support for network, mobile and laptop expenditures during pandemic period This how the service sector ecosystem functioned during critical hours.
Students have own master space where students can invent, create to learn on their time on virtual learning environment where and wherever it needs for students.
Students should be allowed to use real world tools to demonstrate knowledge and what they learnt because in nutshell once they graduate, they are expected to utilize their tools in real world. This is institutional building own model for professional learning that provides teachers the support for tools and resources to be successful.
When it comes to technology integration using tools are used to fosters and embrace essential skill sets that the world today demands, those skills sets including creativity, collaborations, communications, critical thinking, problem solving, digital citizenship media literacy, entrepreneurship and global awareness. Speaking of global awareness students should relish on opportunity to connect with anyone anywhere with available free tools for providing experiences for students using Skype, Video conferencing with people with extreme sufferings for example stuck with cases like disaster survivors in vulnerable areas affected bu flood, landslides, earthquake, Covid pandemic etc. As part of academic program student internship program covers study tour in affected areas including conferencing back with their own peers with history classes to make students aware and to provide more of context to the learning. The model should be more focused on solutions in order to provide a learning experiences that students embrace to create a culture works for students. There may be different mythologies to explore to accomplish to create as much of real-world experience as possible integrating social media-based tools to allow students demonstrate what they have learnt in unique ways. There should be need to have class room and experiences to emulate what is happening in real world. students should be empowered to use their mobile learning devices to enhance learning. For conducting better research and increasing better research and increasing productivity. Students can learn in class, any spaces inside building, or off campus grounds creating constantly along the way learning from our failures, they should not see failures taking as failures they should take as finding ways which things don’t work so changing mindsets transforming a traditional culture. It is about speaking on innovation and possibilities inherent on whole entire change process in trusting students, giving up control, empowering them to take ownership of their learning during problem solving. They have vested interest and when they find in the value on what they are learning and they become increasingly motivated. And they find more purpose in what they are doing. They become masters in what they are having and what they are attempting to accomplish and when these students are given autonomy which is a form of ownership that is when magic happens.
The technology disruption
Leading digital age can be scary, fear dominates. Many leaders inhibit the change process working with teachers to create policies that prohibited and restricted students to access to their devices and basically any type of social medias technology. Now twitting is used as opportunity to be a better communicating with stakeholders. People started discovering how much they didn’t know, learning to understand how to integrate with technology, array of tools, the tools, methodologies that existed now. Many educators are using twitter which is a door way that eventually becoming a catalyst for change. It is the people I was connected with my own constructed personnel learning network. I was like a sponge. I was getting all these ideas. I was motivated to work. I found extremely hard to change the culture of academic institutions, empowering staff to change. I worked with core group who shared vision, support technology, Time to learn professional development opportunities, teachers were empowered and embraced their vision, put the plan into action and when result occurred it became demo effect without mandates or directives that core group began to model along with myself. The core group model expectations with other teachers, other administrators, stakeholders, through the new modeling support flexibility creating a culture that embraced calculated risk taking, removing fear of failure providing learning opportunities. The core group created a whole new construct for teaching and learning. It is like a tidal wave that could not be stopped, all teachers are actively integrated with technology, integrated effectively to enhance the teaching and learning process founded on embracing technology that allows students demonstrate what they have learnt creating artifacts aligned with learning outcome.