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Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: Digital age learning environments

By Helen Crompton 6/25/2015 Learning spaces Standards Technology infrastucture

ISTE Standards for Coaches 3: Digital Age Learning Environments. Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.

Developing a supportive digital age learning environment takes planning and research. The term environment encompasses many elements, including:

Location. To ensure that students (and teachers) have a supportive location for learning, a technology coach should provide a variety of areas inside and outside the school, such as a quiet place for students to work independently as well as rooms where students can work in groups with computers placed together or seating areas where they can collaborate on their mobile devices.

Connectivity. Access to the internet is crucial to a digital age learning environment. Students and teachers need both Wi-Fi and hard connections to enable access to information, programs and people. Connectivity also extends access to virtual locations where students can join educational communities and learn from remote experts.

Social and cultural influences. This category refers to people’s attitudes and perceptions. For example, if the teachers or administrators in the building speak negatively about the use of technology, or if they are overly restrictive about students’ use of tech, it won’t bode well for the success of their digital age learning environment. In contrast, if the teachers and administrators speak and act positively about the use of technology, the students are also more likely to be positive and open to its educational benefits.

Buildings with many opportunities for using technology encourage a positive attitude toward digital learning among both teachers and students. Positive attitudes will stem from a confidence that staff are supported in learning how to use technology and will have the tools they need to work with the students. Support might include ongoing training, onsite technical support, time to plan and develop instruction that includes digital learning, and infrastructure that facilitates the effective development of the digital age learning environment.

Tools. A digital age learning environment includes technological tools for both students and staff. This means the tools need to be working, there need to be enough to go around, and they need to be updated on a regular basis. Teachers also need training and modeling for the use of the tools.

In the three approaches described in the table below, three technology coaches have tried to create positive digital age learning environments by developing a virtual environment, such as Edmodo, Schoology or Moodle.

ISTE Standards-C 3: Digital Age Learning Environments. Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.

Approach 1.
This technology coach selects a digital learning platform. He then tells the entire staff they must start using this platform and provides the address and login details.
 
 

Approach 2.
This tech coach holds a meeting with all stakeholders to determine the appropriate learning platform for the school’s educational staff, students and parents before selecting and adopting a platform for the entire school. The coach provides regular face-to-face professional development (PD) initially, then moves the PD is moved to the online environment.
The coach actively participates in the environment and models good use.

Approach 3.
This tech coach holds a meeting with all stakeholders to determine the appropriate learning platform for the school’s educational staff, students and parents before selecting and adopting a platform for the entire school.
The coach provides regular face-to-face professional development initially, then moves the PD to the online environment. In addition to the PD, the environment has a place for staff to sign up for additional personalized PD, request technologies and report problems. The coach actively participates in the environment and models good use.
She gives parents and the larger community a way to log in to the system, as well, so they can review students’ tasks and assignments but not their comments.

a. Model effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and resources and access to technology-rich learning environments.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of modeling in this approach.

Addressed: PD is initially face to face before it is moved to the online environment, where the tech coach models good use.

Addressed: PD is initially face to face before it is moved to the online environment, where the tech coach models good use.

b. Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of management or maintenance in this indicator.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Addressed: The learning platform includes a digital signup for technology tool use.

c. Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of coaching in this approach.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Addressed: The learning platform includes a digital signup for PD requests.

d. Select, evaluate and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning.

Not addressed: There is no specific evidence of this indicator.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Addressed: The learning platform includes a digital signup for PD and tools, including assistive technologies.

e. Troubleshoot basic software, hardware and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of troubleshooting in this approach.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Addressed: A problem reporting tool is available online, and the technology coach is available in person.

f. Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure.

Not addressed: There is no collaboration in the selection of the learning platform.

Addressed: All stakeholders were involved in selecting the online learning platform that is part of the digital learning environment.

Addressed: All stakeholders were involved in selecting the online learning platform that is part of the digital learning environment.

g. Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Addressed: Parents and the larger community can connect to the learning platform.

 
In Approach 1, the technology coach chose a digital learning platform on his own. He then sent out a message to the rest of the staff saying that the entire school will adopt this platform. This technology coach did not consult anyone else to see if the platform is appropriate and compatible with the whole school’s infrastructure. This approach does not address any of the indicators in this standard.

In Approach 2, the tech coach selects a digital learning platform only after meeting with the many stakeholders who will be using it. The coach provides PD for teachers and administrators before adopting the platform, after which she provides ongoing PD within the digital learning platform. The coach is an ever-present and active member of the digital learning community, where she provides help, advice and modeling of its use. This approach met some of the indicators in this standard but did not meet those that pertained to providing an online area to report problems or request professional support. Moreover, this approach did not address the needs of the parents or community at large.

The technology coach in Approach 3 has met all the indicators of this standard. As in Approach 2, the coach selected the digital learning platform only after meeting with all of the stakeholders involved, including parents and community members. The coach provided face-to-face PD before adopting the digital learning platform, then online PD within the environment after adopting the platform. Additionally, he created a place within the digital platform where staff can sign up for ongoing, personalized PD as well as a space where users can report technical problems and seek assistance. As in Approach 2, the technology coach is an active member of the online environment and models good practice within it. Moreover, parents and community members are able to access the learning platform to view the activities that the teachers ask students to do, but they are restricted from viewing confidential information, such as students’ comments.

Learn more about how to be an effective technology coach in our online Coaching Academy.

Acknowledgment
Mark Diacopoulos, who assisted with this article, holds a master’s in secondary education from Old Dominion University, Virginia. He is currently a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction at Old Dominion, where he is researching technology integration in the social studies.

Helen Crompton is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She is a researcher and educator in the field of instructional technology, and she earned her Ph.D. in educational technology and mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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