|3b. Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.|
This standard is one that can be a coaches’ worst nightmare. At the rate that tools and online resources change, disappear or change their web addresses it can be difficult to maintain and manage digital tools for teachers and students. Because of this, I think it is important to help teachers build toolboxes of general tools that can be used for certain tasks or purposes but we can not pigeon hole those tools into only being used certain ways (All Innovative Designers Need Good Tools). Once people understand how a tool works, they will often find very creative uses for it that I would have never thought to teach them. That flexibility is one of the powers of digital tools.
A good “digital toolbox” needs a good organizational structure for the tools and resources so they are easily accessible. There are many tools can organize, such as bookmarking, Clever and the one we are trying in my district, HelloID. However, it is not just enough to have a list of tools if you do not know what they can be used for. In my post on Constructing Knowledge Through Curation I pointed out the difference between collecting and curating tools. Bookmarking resources is collecting, curation is using a tool to “construct knowledge” and requires a deeper knowledge of what you want share. It requires an understanding of the capacity of a tool and the ability to evaluate it to see if it the best tool for the job you want to use it for.
There are a couple of ways I have been trying to help point teachers to new tools and resources in my capacity as a Digital Learning Specialist. We have a blog called EdTech in Small Bytes (it is an internal blog and not accessible outside the district) where we regularly post ideas, tools and resources that are accessible by all staff. We still need to find a way to get more staff aware of the blog but it is easy to keep updated, tagged and easy for teachers to search for what they want. We have liked the flexibility to post when we find something interesting rather than waiting to post once every few weeks to a more formal digital newsletter.
We are also using a new tool this year called KyteLearning.com which offers staff online, anytime, anywhere skill based video training on a wide variety of technology tools and resources. It has greatly expanded staff access to training and they can earn clock hours for their time learning online in Kyte. As coaches, we have also been able to create our own courses for tools that we use in our district but do not yet have courses for in Kyte. Being our own content creators has allowed us to customize content for our staff. We are working on an on-boarding course for new staff for the fall so that we have all training on all of our digital learning tools in one place.