Review of Leading a Digital School

Editors: Mal Lee & Michael Gaffney

OK, let's not beat about the bush. If you're serious about leading a IT-rich school, or even only a particular aspect of it, you need to buy this book. Perhaps I'm a sad individual, but despite the dry-sounding nature of the material I actually enjoyed reading it.

Book coverBut I'm getting ahead of myself.

Leading a Digital School is subtitled "Principles and Practice", and that's a pretty good description. As the old British advert has it:

It does what is says on the tin. (Watch the video to see what I'm referring to.)

It's an Australian book, with several contributors, edited by Mal Lee and Michael Gaffney. The strength of the book lies in the fact that all the contributors have been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. They know what they're talking about.

The range of topics covered is impressive, and includes:

  • Leading schools in a digital era.
  • Successful learning and school design.
  • Planning.
  • Challenges for school leaders in engaging with technology.
  • Strategic considerations for teaching and learning.
  • Support issues.
  • Managing information needs.
  • and case studies.

Let's look at a couple of these in more detail. The section on ICT support will not read strangely to anyone familiar with the UK's Framework for ICT Support programme:

There should be no such concept as 'technical versus academic' support. The two should go hand in hand. Technical support staff must recognise that teaching and learning are central to all they do, and supporting the teacher or student in the classroom is critical.

Absolutely. See Technical Support: Recruiting Technical Support Staff: Nine General Principles, for example, or FITS for the purpose.

Or how about the section on leadership? After a discussion of the crucial role of the school principal, the author says:

Principals and education system officers who are not capable or willing to accept these new leadership challenges are likely to abdicate their responsibility to ICT experts and wear the consequences.

Those headteachers who believe that a strategic approach to embedding new technology is to force every teacher to use an interactive whiteboard in every lesson, regardless of context, need to read this book.

Easy to read, with bullet points, numbered lists, diagrams, tables and real world examples, this book is essential reading for the (budding) ICT leader in school. Such is its insight that it will be found to be applicable anywhere in the world, not just its country of origin.

Now, if you'd like to buy this book direct from the publisher, the Australian Council for Educational Research, you should select one of the following options:

If you live anywhere other than the USA, Australia or New Zealand, buy it from Eurospan.

If you live in the USA, Australia or New Zealand buy it from ACER:

Publisher's contact details:
ACER Customer Service: 19 Prospect Hill Rd, Camberwell, VIC 3124, Australia
ph: 1800 338 402,  +61 3 9277 5447  f: +61 3 9277 5499  e:

In each case please mention the Computers in Classrooms newsletter or the ICT in Education website.

Alternatively, click on the book cover to order it through Amazon, thereby contributing to my efforts to put bread on my family's table.

This is an update of an article which first appeared in Computers in Classrooms in January 2009. That may seem like a long time ago, but the book is still relevant and useful. Indeed, it was one of the sources I drew on for my Spotlight talk called Introducing Web 2.0 into Your Classroom at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology in Singapore, March 2010.