ST. FRANCISVILLE — Best-selling author and speaker Eric Sheninger had a strong message for an audience of educators on Jan. 4 in the West Feliciana High School auditorium.
“If you practice the same old thinking, you’ll get the same old results,” Sheninger told the crowd of about 100.
Sheninger is an author of four books and numerous articles about digital leadership and learning, and he travels the world spreading his message of how he used digital technology to transform New Milford High School in New Jersey into a top-rated school.
As a senior fellow for the International Center for Leadership in Education, Sheninger’s work focuses on leading and learning in the digital age as a model for moving schools and school districts forward. His focus is providing school leaders with tools they can use to become more effective and efficient through the use of technology.
This has led to the formation of the Pillars of Digital Leadership, a framework for all educators to initiate sustainable change to transform school cultures in the digital age. These pillars include communication, public relations, branding, student engagement/learning, professional growth/development, re-envisioning learning spaces and environments and opportunity.
“The premise is on working to transform traditional high schools to globally recognized models for innovative practices while also increasing achievement,” Sheninger told the audience.
By utilizing these principles, administrators can make their schools have a more relevant learning culture, and once they start seeing results, they can start telling their stories through effective communication practices, he said.
Funding is a key issue for many school districts, but Sheninger believes no student should be put in unfair "learning environments because of their zip codes” and instead investment in infrastructure should be strategic.
For example, he said at his school, he implemented a system where laptop computers were checked out like library books and the school stayed open later so students could use the Wi-Fi for their work. He also partnered with local businesses to offer Wi-Fi to students and in return, he promoted their businesses.
“It’s not only about technology all the time, it’s about improving learning outcomes for kids,” he said. “Many schools across the country invest in stuff, but there’s little foresight into how will it improve learning.”
He suggests school districts must improve teaching practices and improve ways that educators are evaluated to make a difference. As well, better assessments are needed for children.
Sheninger, who lives in Texas, also spoke in West Baton Rouge Parish as part of his trip to Louisiana.