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Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: Create a digital portfolio

By Helen Crompton 9/30/2015 Professional learning Tools

ISTE Standards for Coaches 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

As educational practices have changed over time, so too have perceptions about learning and knowledge. At one time, educators were thought to know everything. Once they became teachers, their learning was finished, and their role was to pass on knowledge to their students. But things have changed. Today, we expect teachers to actively engage in lifelong learning across locations, time and topics, from prekindergarten to higher education to post-school professional development, including both formal schooling and unplanned learning that takes place in casual settings.

This applies to technology coaches as well — perhaps even more than other types of educators. Because coaches’ specialty, educational technology, is constantly changing, it is the coach’s job to keep updated on available technologies and how to use them to benefit learners. To be effective in educating both students and teachers, coaches must check for gaps in their content knowledge regularly and maintain continuous professional growth.

Designing a well-organized digital portfolio is an excellent way to keep track of your content knowledge and professional growth. It is a place where coaches can store and showcase examples of what they have done. It also includes information about the networks where they get information and support, such as the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Network.

A tech coach’s digital portfolio should include:

  • A welcome page to explain who they are, including the job title, a brief educational history and any relevant hobbies.
  • Details of academic achievements and training they have gained.
  • A professional photograph.
  • Some of their best examples of media-rich lessons and digital products.
  • A strong technology teaching philosophy (how they believe technology can support teaching and learning).
  • Links to their professional social media networks.
  • A resume.
  • School contact details.
  • A link to their blog, which can be a good place to share technology tips and examples with others but must be updated on a regular basis.

Keeping a digital portfolio updated is also a good way for coaches to model digital age skills to educators. Indicators for each of the six ISTE Standards for Tech Coaches often include mention of coaches acting as role models, and this standard is no exception. Digital age technology coaches must understand that modeling how to learn, through formal training and personal example, is an important part of their role.

The three approaches below show how three different technology coaches might keep track of their professional development.

ISTE Standards-C 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth. Technology coaches demonstrate professional knowledge, skills and dispositions in content, pedagogical and technological areas as well as adult learning and leadership and are continuously deepening their knowledge and expertise.

Approach 1.
This coach keeps a spreadsheet listing the dates and titles of mandatory district trainings they are required to attend.

Approach 2.
This coach has created a digital portfolio with all the main components listed above as well as media-rich examples based on the implementation of the ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers. The coach does not have a plan to update the portfolio or use it to look for gaps or make improvements.

Approach 3.
This coach has created a digital portfolio with all the main components listed above as well as media-rich examples based on the implementation of the ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers. The coach uses the portfolio to identify gaps in knowledge and regularly updates it with richer examples of knowledge, skills and practice aligned with the ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers.

a. Engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies necessary to effectively implement the ISTE Standards-S and ISTE Standards-T.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of continued learning.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of continued learning.

Addressed: The coach regularly updates the portfolio with richer examples as they align to the ISTE Standards.

b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management and adult learning to improve professional practice.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of continued learning.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of continued learning.

Addressed:The coach regularly updates the portfolio with richer examples as they align to the ISTE Standards.

c. Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology-enhanced learning experiences.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of evaluation or reflection.

Partially addressed: When the coach connects training and experiences to the standards, he or she is evaluating and reflecting. However, it is not done regularly. The portfolio may or may not model appropriate technology use, as it is not updated regularly.

Addressed: Evaluation and reflection are evident in the regular portfolio updates. This coach models good technology use with the digital portfolio and with the examples it includes.

 

In Approach 1, the technology coach is just documenting the mandatory training, not evaluating or reflecting. More important, there is no evidence of any effort to continue that learning. This approach does not meet any of the indicators in this standard.

The technology coach in Approach 2 has developed a digital portfolio. This coach has also aligned knowledge, skills and experiences with the ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers, which requires evaluation and reflection on professional practice and dispositions and how they relate to the facilitation of technology-enhanced learning experiences. Unfortunately, this coach does not have a plan to evaluate or update the portfolio on a regular basis. Although the coach is modeling good technology use with the portfolio’s initial development, he or she is failing to do so when the examples and products become outdated. This coach has partially met the third indicator, but there is no evidence of continued learning for the first two indicators.

In Approach 3, the technology coach has developed a digital portfolio and regularly evaluates it to update learning and skills. As a result, learning is ongoing as knowledge, skills and experiences are aligned to the ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers. The continually updated portfolio is an excellent example of modeling good technology use, and Approach 3 meets all of the indicators of this standard.

The lesson here is that well-structured digital professional portfolios provide an effective method of improving professional practice as long as they are supported by continual review, reflection, learning and modeling. Do you have a professional digital portfolio?

Want to learn more about becoming an effective technology coach? Enroll in ISTE’s self-paced online Coaching Academy to help your colleagues embrace technology and leverage digital age teaching to enhance learning.

Acknowledgments

Chase C. Kellogg Byron, Thomas L. Goldsmith Jr., Adam Boudion and Ander Roger III assisted in writing this article. While studying for their bachelor’s of science degrees in computer science at Old Dominion University, they developed the Teachers’ Organized Workplace for Education Research (TOWER).  

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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