NETS-A, Where’s the Data?

After seeking a few articles of substance about the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A), I found only a few. Most notably, Richardson, et. al. (2012) wrote about the lack of in-depth research there is around the topic of school technology leadership which includes a research void centered on the use of the NETS-A Standards. The Richardson article points out that most of the “research” found in Educational Research Information Center (ERIC) from 1997 to 2010 was only descriptive in nature. In the discussion section, the authors highlighted Standard 4: Systematic Improvement and Standard 5: Digital Citizenship as receiving less attention than the other three standards. The authors expect to see issues of inequity due to the limited research. I see the irony of expecting systematic improvement (Standard 4) without plenty of academic research.

Since “Visionary Leadership” is the lead-off standard for NETS-A, I looked closer at what has been written recently about moving visionary leadership from a promising construct to a proven leadership characteristic. What I found did not attend directly to NET-A, but, instead, to a shared concept of leadership. Taylor, et. al. (2014) compared visionary leadership to transformational leadership as their contribution to existing literature. They focused on the organizational effectiveness of leadership styles using Quinn and Rohrbaughs'(1983) Competing Values Scale (CVS). Taylor, et. al. demonstrated how visionary leaders draw out organizational effectiveness internally and externally from both their own expression of vision and the authentically expressed vision of their subordinates. Communication was a key factor which leads to positively perceived notions of organizational effectiveness, which led further to actual goal attainment. The transformational leadership style was less flexible due to the need for subordinates to buy-in to the vision of the transformational leader. The transformational leadership style is strong and effective in some settings such as one, mentioned volunteer choir in Germany, but with a topic as wide-open as educational technology, with all its directional variables, the need for a more dynamic vision that adjusts to constant progress through change is exposed. Leadership that allows for subordinate vision acceptance in a fluidly communicative environment is going to have the best potential to be effective, and visionary leadership has the flexibility to meet constantly changing needs. Taylor, et. at. have provided evidence to pursue visionary leadership in educational technology.

Ylimaki (October 2006) takes a different look at visionary leadership, yet one of her key conclusions supports the distinction Taylor made about the same leadership style. The connection is that Ylimaki found that the visionary archetype maintains authenticity by necessarily pointing out the truth without blame or judgment which frees the field for creativity. Further, the visionary archetype honors four ways of seeing: intuition, perception, insight, and holistic seeing (vision). The combination of Taylor,’s regression analysis and Ylimaki’s narrative report, triangulate data that points toward visionary leadership as an effective form of leadership to facilitate 21st Century learning through technology in our schools.

More research is needed to look closely at NETS standards for students, coaches and administrators if we are going to remain mindful and intentional about making technology all it can be so students can become all they can be.

Quinn, R. E., & Rohrbaugh, J. (1983). A spatial model of effectiveness criteria: Towards a competing values approach to organizational analysis. Management Science, 29, 363–377
Richardson, J.W., Bathon, J., Flora, K. L., & Lewis, W. D. (Winter 2012). NETS.A scholarship: A review of published literature. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 45, 131-151.
Taylor, C. M., Cornelius, C. J., & Colvin, K. (2014). Visionary Leadership and its relationship to organizational effectiveness: Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 35, 566-583.
Ylimaki, R. M., (October 2006). Toward a new conceptualization of vision in the work of educational leaders: Cases of the visionary archetype. Educational Administration Quarterly: 42, 620-651

Gift Wrapping Creativity in the Classroom

For an article review, let us look at theIMG_0762 article, “Novel, effective, whole: Toward a NEW framework for evaluations of creative products,” by Danah Henriksen, Punya Mishra, and Rohit Mehta. As it turns out, this article is not available online through UNCW where I am taking classes. UNCW has hard copies of the journal, and the library was closed at this writing. Instead of waiting for the library to open, I looked further. I put the title in a scholarly Google search and got two hits. The top hit was a link to where I could purchase the article. Below that link there was a link to a pdf of the complete article. I was willing to read this article, but I was not so willing to site the link until I realized that the link came from one of the two authors of the article, Punya Minshra, at Michigan State University. As there were no restrictions stated on his site, I sited the article via that link, and I did not need to visit the library.

This twenty-four-page article is about the assessment of creativity. The article makes four points. The authors recognize a lack of assessment instruments available to measure creativity in the classroom. They devised a clear definition of creativity using the acronym NEW for novel, effective, and whole. They used that definition as the basis for a Likert scale rubric, and finally, the authors provided examples of creativity demonstrate the rubric.

The authors described novel as fresh, unique, startling, pioneering, and trendsetting, among other things.

They described effective as valuable, significant, necessary, logical, appropriate, and useful.

They described whole as organic, organized, complex, meaningful, intricate, graceful, and clear.

Together, these elements are presented as guidelines. They create a leveled framework in which to identify creativity when creativity needs to be identified. The rubric is meant to set clear standards of quality in terms of creativity. I have touched on this in my own class over the past few years when I encourage my students to score double points when they make comments in class by staying relevant to score “teacher points” and being funny to score “classmate points.” The authors pointed out that context is key to the value and quality of creativity expressed. Scoring creativity must involve an awareness of the context which includes relevance to the topic at hand and sensitive to the players involved.

My comment about this challenge to find a way to assess creativity, even though the notion of boxing up creativity to assess it is ironic, is that it still makes sense, and I believe it can be applied almost too easily to the classroom. I believe we need to be careful about how we apply the assessment. When first applying the creativity rubric, it ought to be a student choice or just a teacher’s suggestion, because the drive to be creative could easily distract students from the context of the assignment or activity. From informal observation it seems that funny and creative are tightly linked in the young learner’s mind. In order to actually promote creativity, teachers may need to encourage creativity and be ready to respond to student creativity with a relevant assessment such as this assessment when the creativity is a culmination of clear and measured thought. Students work up to creativity. To be used correctly, this assessment needs to be a vehicle that provides feedback about how a student’s work is creative and not about how it is not. A creativity assessment, too soon, will creates a negative stigma too easily for those who are struggling to master the material. That is where creative teachers come in. When students present assignments creatively, it is as if they are presenting a gift of value. When teachers are able to clearly describe why the work is creative using this assessment, it is as if the teacher is carefully gift wrapping the work, and returning the value back to the student with respect.

Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & Mehta, R. (2015). Journal of Technology and Teacher Education23.3, 455. Retrieved from