The Role of Technology in Governance


Technology and governance might not seem a likely pairing—one being a tool and the other being a collective act. However, modern governance should both utilize available tools as well as set a direction and example for the rest of the educational enterprise. It is incumbent on postsecondary institutions, and thereby their leaders, to prepare students for their future, not for board members’ pasts. And that future will not be separated from technology.

Embody the Principles of a Learning Organization

Students today learn academic core subjects, but they need more than those to integrate into the workforce. Education has long moved past simply the Three Rs, expanding to include what many have dubbed the Four Cs:

  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Collaboration  
  • Creativity

Embedding these into an institution requires boards to model the same behavior in their work, applying the Four Cs to (1) strategic planning, (2) accountability and data protocols (3) process improvements, and (4) leading as a learning community.

Embrace Transparency and Accessibility

The question, “Who owns the schools?” might generate a multitude of answers. These range from taxpayers to educators to students. These groups all have vested interests in the college. Modern governance requires that we meet the needs of all constituents and embrace inclusivity. Transparency is critical, and stakeholders have an expectation of access. College leaders can create a culture of openness, which fosters trust and faith in the institution and its employees, by using technological solutions that provide transparency. Board technology also broadens accessibility for all, regardless of ability, income, or status.

Incorporate Innovation Through Change

Presidents, chancellors, and other leaders serve as the examples and the figureheads for the institution. If a college aspires to be a flagship learning community, attracting the best applicants and launching programs that are models of innovation, it will only be as good as the board. A modern governance board embraces its role, taking seriously the opportunity to create a culture that strives for excellence, views mistakes as learning opportunities, and sees the value in constant improvement. A board using technology to its fullest has an opportunity to set the tone for the district and create a culture of learning and forward-thinking.

Questions to Consider as a Modern Governance Board

  • Have we set a vision for our college, basing decisions on movement toward that vision?
  • Have we adopted a strategic plan?
  • Are we using the collective tools, processes, and methodologies that enable us to move toward our goals?
  • Are we using data to drive our decisions? Is the data available to everyone?
  • Have we embraced the team approach, asking questions in a way that invites openness with a focus on improvement?
  • Do we spend time on process improvements and discussions of substance, avoiding politics?
  • Are we communicating with key audiences about issues facing the college?

Creating the right culture requires having the right tools and demonstrating modern governance best practices to the community. After all, community members are future board members.

BoardDocs was an Innovations 2021 sponsor and exhibitor.

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