Preparing Digital Leaders in Higher Ed Course


Delivering course content to colleagues — some younger and some older — can be viewed as a monumental task. Passionate, maybe too passionate, about the content could not overshadow the goal of preparing digital leaders the evolving educational landscape they are encountering daily.

I was aware of the digital leadership framework of Eric Sheninger and its alignment with the ISTE Standards for Administrators. It ended up being the framework I selected for the course. However, its examples are quickly becoming outdated as technology is being upgraded and authentic student learning experiences evolve. I was challenged to continually read and bring in outside examples (i.e., blogs, fellow #edtech contributors, my PLN’s knowledge) to meet the needs of everyone enrolled in the course.

However, the sinking feeling in my stomach was my students would not feel the course was relevant or they would not be willing to be risk takers. Maybe they would walk through the motions of the course and not embrace how the power of educational technology for their students.

I placed a lot of my heart and passion into the preparation, the assignments, and personal conversations I had many nights via Twitter, Skype, and Google Hangouts to meet the needs of working professionals.



Courtesy of @design2research’s Tweet, I feel this is the impact #EDLD510S17 had on my grad students this semester.

In return, students exceeded my expectation and were the epitome of the quote used above.

The course didn’t waste any time focusing on definitions of authentic learning, how educational technology tools enhanced learning, data analysis on current trends within our districts, professional learning development, and away we went. It was quickly agreed upon district policies (i.e., acceptable use, social media, BYOD) offer red tape for one reason or another. However, the course could not stop because policies were not current or fear and anxiety existed by altering the this is the way we always do it status quo.

Weekly students engaged in FlipGrid conversations about their readings, but it was never summarizing the text. Discussion questions challenged each person to be reflective and focus not on what they could not control, but what they could control in their individualized setting.

Relinquishing the heavy armor of fear, students jumped right in developing school-wide professional development plans with a focus on how to integrate the plan. It was necessary for me to have students become active users and creators with #edtech tools that support the standards — often challenging students to think deeper.


Failure is the Key to the Puzzle

In the early weeks, my online office hours were packed and Google Hangouts were becoming normal. Many asked questions and wanted each specific detail — which I purposely did not always offer. I wanted exploratory moments and not always giving them the answer. I wanted to model problem solving by offering suggestions, but not the answer. In return, many later asked questions and would turn around with an email stating “I Googled and found out my answer.” The process is the same for many young people in the current landscape of education.

The calls became less and less; distress calls were abnormal now.


Risk Taking

Students began asking questions to learn further; asking whether I had a contact in their district for assistance in gaining more technology. Yes, their capacity was filling quickly. They were participating in innovative learning tasks outside of the course requirements because kids deserve the best.

I was adding fuel to their rocket, and they were going as far as they could imagine.


EdTech Tools Presented Throughout Term

  • Twitter
  • WordPress
  • Google — Plus, Hangouts, Forms, Drawings
  • Sway
  • FlipGrid
  • PearDeck
  • Kahoots
  • Plickers
  • Green Screen — TouchCast, Doink
  • PiktoChart
  • Skype
  • Aurasma

Thank You

I feel like I was the lucky one in this course. I got the chance to see and hear about teacher-leaders who imposed self-barriers, and I saw those barriers removed. In the process, they were forced to get comfortable with uncomfortable pedagogical practices. In the end, I feel everyone learned a lot along the way.

Seeing each and everyone’s transformation has been truly amazing.

–Brian Cook, Ed.D.–


About briancookeducator

Husband, Daddy, teacher, #Mountaineer, coach, and aspiring school leader | Thoughts are my own.
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