Using digital content can save teachers time and make their curriculums more relevant when they're equipped with practical strategies for implementation, Discovery Education Director of Learning Communities and Instructional Innovation Kyle Schutt writes for eSchool News.
Among Schutt's suggested strategies for helping teachers grow their digital knowledge are adding one instructional strategy per week that expands the teacher toolbox and encouraging teachers to use technology to take students on virtual field trips to otherwise inaccessible locations.
He also recommends letting students take what they learn and redesign it in new ways digitally, having teachers network online to share experiences and best practices, and ensuring teachers have access to high-quality content to enhance the learning experience.
As classrooms embrace increasingly digital learning environments, districts are making an effort to ease the selection of digital materials for teachers. Chicago Public Schools, for example, has created a digital readiness training model and resource collection called Skyline. Anything added to Skyline must meet a set of requirements created by the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and digital learning.
Carefully vetting digital learning tools at the district level is critical. For example, a personalized math learning program called Teach to One didn’t help students improve on state test scores at five schools in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but a different study found students who used the program did improve on MAP test scores at another 14 schools.
The program, which allows students to work independently while also spending time in small groups or one-on-one with a teacher, is supposed to adapt to the students’ knowledge level and offer help where it is needed.
But success often ultimately comes down to application of the programs and, most importantly, teacher training. Teachers need sufficient professional development on any new digital learning platform or resource to fully understand it and use it effectively.