My mission as a digital learning coach is to partner with educators and students in order to provide them with the resources and skills necessary to successfully navigate a digital world that is constantly evolving.
As a digital learning coach, it is important that I am a model for educators and students that I work with. Through my work I am continually striving to provide the necessary skills and information for teachers and students when it comes to working with technology. “Educators and learners are in the midst of significant transformations in both the teaching and learning arenas” (Chapman, 2016, p.287). With this transformation it is my responsibility to support educators and students. Whether that support is through modeling instruction, co-planning lessons with a teacher, or supporting teachers and students in finding the appropriate tool in order to meet the needs of the lesson, my job is to listen and coach them through this transformation. I am continually seeking to work with educators in order to help them “utilize technology in ways that engage a broader variety of learners” (Chapman, 2016, p.288). In order to support my mission, I have created three guiding principles that are aligned with the ISTE Standards for Coaches.
- Provide access to resources and tools to equitably support students and educators
- Be a model for educators and students around using digital technology safely
- Supporting digital collaboration
Principle 1: Provide access to resources and tools to equitably support students and educators
ISTE Coaching Standard 3b: Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.
Providing access to tools and resources is more than just putting the resources in front of students and educators. This support comes in the form of helping educators evaluate what the right resources and tools are that will support student learning outcomes. It is being a thought partner with educators to determine when a tool is appropriate to use and then how to thoughtfully support students in the use of the tool. Through this work it is important to think about how technology can support culturally relevant teaching. When looking at new resources and tools I always strive to help educators think about how the resource will allow students to engage. Students should be able to incorporate their own culture, background knowledge, and identity into the work and if the resource or tool doesn’t allow for that then maybe it’s not the right fit. “Culture is a significant determinant in how we appropriate and assign relevance to learning technologies” (Chapman, 2016, p.290). If our students can’t see the relevance, then they are less apt to engage in the learning.
It is also important to consider how resources align to the standards that we are asking students to engage in. Through my work as a coach I often work with educators to think about what the standard is that they are trying to address, what they want students to be able to do, and what is the best resource for making student learning visible. When resources and tools are used that not only align to standards but are also culturally relevant teachers and students both benefit.
Principle 2: Be a model for educators and students around using digital technology safely
ISTE Coaching Standard 7d: Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.
In this day and age where more and more of what we do is online, it is extremely important to help educators and students make smart decisions when using technology. I do this every day through the interactions that I have with fellow educators and students. Through my work I am always modeling what I would expect educators and students to do. I encourage educators to think about their own online identity and whether that identity matches the one they have offline. I have spent time in classrooms where I have been able to work with students on this topic as well. It is my goal as a digital coach to make sure that educators and students are continually assessing what they create digitally and if it accurately reflects who they are. It is important that as more information is put online educators and students know how that information can be viewed, accessed and used. When working with educators it is important that I continue to model how we want students to engage when online. The more educators can see this modeled the more likely they are to start to embed it in their own teaching.
Through my work it is my goal to work with educators in order to embed digital citizenship and teach students how to use digital technology safely in their classrooms. As Ribble (2013) states, “As technology continues to become a more integral part of students’ lives, making sure that all members within school environments are well versed in appropriate use and digital citizenship will be imperative” (p.142). The work of making sure that members are versed in digital citizenship is where I focus much of my work. Through the work with teachers I am able to see the impact that it has on the work that they do with their students. I am able to work with educators so that they then become the model for students around how to safely use technology.
Principle 3: Supporting digital collaboration
ISTE Coaching Standard 7b: Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.
Prensky (2013) states that while the need to discuss and evaluate perspectives isn’t changing, how we do that is, as more sophisticated technology comes out. With this new technology comes the need to help educators and students understand how to and when to use it. My goal is to work with educators in realizing that many of these digital tools can be powerful forms of collaboration. Not only can students collaborate with other students in their class, but they can collaborate with other students from around the world. With this greater collaboration though comes the need to teach students what acceptable online collaborative interactions look like. It is often easy to misinterpret someone’s words when dealing with online collaborations. I strive to work with educators to help them anticipate where and when some of these misunderstandings may occur. Then teachers can make intentional plans for how they are going to address these with students in order to help students learn from them.
Digital collaboration lens itself to allowing students to creatively showcase their learning not only for themselves but to the people that they are working with and also their teacher. My goal is to help students understand how to best choose the words that they use when they collaborate, the resources or tools that they use for collaboration, and how that collaboration can be positively impactful.
Technology is continuing to evolve and change the environment that we are living and working within. My goal is to build up educators and students as leaders in this work so that we can all have a positive impact when it comes to a digital environment. I want educators and students to thoughtfully think about the resources and the tools that they are using, how they are using them and how they are using them with others for collaboration. “Technology in learning is no longer an option because technology is now a vital component of both work life and personal life” (Bridges & Jones, 2016, p.327). As a digital learning coach I am always working to be a model for students and teachers around balancing the use of technology in learning in order to navigate a digital world and in thinking intentionally about the resources and tools that are available to support this work.
Chapman, R. (2016). Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies. in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, ed. Nicholas John Rushby and Daniel W. Surry (p.287-300). Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell.
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Jones, M. & Bridges, R. (2016), Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents,Current Issues, and Future Trends,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, ed. Nicholas John Rushby and Daniel W. Surry (p. 327-347). Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell.
Prensky, M. (2013). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. in From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (p.201-215). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin.
Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.