As school districts across the globe work to integrate technology into classrooms, we must acknowledge that one approach, one strategy, one tool never fits all. Every district – whether it’s urban or rural, large or small, well funded or not – requires solutions that will help meet its unique student populations and instructional goals.
And therein lies the challenge. Where can districts turn for advice and resources that will put them on the path to meeting their priorities for digital learning? It’s a question ISTE is working to answer with its new district partnership program.
Over the last several months, ISTE has been collaborating with several districts to align instruction with technology. When partnering with districts, we start with a full evaluation and end with recommendations based on a district’s distinctive goals, always putting learning first, technology second.
The evaluation and the recommendations are based on the ISTE Essential Conditions, 14 critical elements necessary to effect-ively leverage technology for learning. The Essential Conditions offer educators and school leaders a research-backed framework to guide implementation of the ISTE Standards, tech planning and systemwide change.
And we offer several ways to go about this, from full-service programs that include professional development, customized learning opportunities, online courses and ISTE membership to individual selections from among ISTE’s programs that match a district’s vision.
Perhaps it’s sending a cohort of educators in ISTE U where they can build essential skills for teaching and learning in a digital world. Or maybe it’s helping teachers pursue ISTE Certification for Educators, a unique certification for district educator cohorts to help them move systems from vision to practice by preparing them to redesign learning activities with technology to engage students in real-world, active learning.
There’s also districtwide ISTE membership that provides access to vibrant educator communities and professional learning networks for year-round PD and sharing of best practices, along with all the other valuable benefits of ISTE membership.
And we also offer accessible and affordable professional development options like districtwide or team-based learning rooted in ISTE books. ISTE has over 80 titles on critical edtech topics that can be the basis of topical PD and schoolwide or districtwide book clubs.
Finally, in January, we held the first-ever ISTE Digital Leadership Summit where over 200 district leaders worked shoulder to shoulder, guided by ISTE, to plan the change they want to see in their districts. We’re planning on holding this extremely well-received event again in 2020.
These district partnerships signify a major expansion of ISTE’s engagement at the district level; we’ve long offered resources and services to individual educators. We’re committed to building tools and programs that help leaders guide districtwide transformation and impact every classroom and every student.
If all of this sounds like something your district would like to get on board with, go to iste.org/district to learn more. We can’t wait to partner with you on your district’s transformation!
David Benoit is ISTE's senior director for district and channel partnerships.