Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review of Eric Sheninger's Digital Leadership

Digital Leadership, by Eric Sheninger, is a comprehensive examination of what being a connected leader in today's school looks and sounds like.  Throughout the book, he provides clear examples of leaders that have made the transition, utilizing many of the 7 Pillars of Digital Leadership that Sheninger discusses in his book. These tools all incorporate the use of free social media to engage stakeholders related to schools- students, staff, parents, and community members.  Sheninger details how he utilizes Twitter, Facebook, blogs and more to communicate the stories from his school, New Milford High School, to the public. As he states in the book, if you don't tell your story then someone else will, and it might not be the story you want told.

The world of our students has changed with the instant information available to them via the multitude of devices on which they spend a great amount of time.  This shift, Sheninger argues, needs to carry over to our schools.  He posits that our schools are still functioning as if we were still in the age of Frederick Taylor's assembly line, which is a far cry from the world that our students currently inhabit.  If we are professing to be in the business of preparing our students for the real world, it naturally follows to wonder why it is that our schools are still operating in an outdated paradigm.  After reading this book, I came away with many questions about the way that we are educating our students.

Thankfully, contained in the book are examples of current practicing leaders that have begun to make the switch inside their schools and districts.  These stories provide an insight into how it can be done, all using the aforementioned free social media tools, along with shifting instruction to increasingly engage our students in much the same way that they are engaged during their own time.  Most reassuring is that these examples show the possibilities that exist within all of us, as many of the leaders documented- including Eric Sheninger himself- were once unaware, or unapproving, of this shift towards instant information allowed by the growth of the internet.

I highly recommend this book for all educators in a position of leadership, as its straight forward style is easy to follow, without having to research vague techno-terms!  It provides easy-to-follow examples of how our schools can effectively tell our story and engage our students in this digital age!

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