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