Digital Tools: Demonstrating Effective Use & Leadership

Instructor: Kim-Kathie Knudsen

Kim-Kathie has taught high school and college Spanish and has worked as a professional development specialist and instructional technology administrator. She has a master's degree in Teaching and Curriculum and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Instructional technology is here to stay in 21st century learning. Learn how to be a leader in the use of digital tools in your school or district, community, and classroom, including switching to a flipped classroom.

The 21st Century Learner

Most learners today grew up with technology and are digital natives.
teenagers and laptops

Your principal announces that he is forming a committee to develop a plan for including instructional technology into learning in all classrooms. He says that this will involve the use of digital tools and media, and asks for a few volunteers to flip their classrooms.

After a moment of thought, you volunteer even though you aren't quite sure what he means by instructional technology, flipped classrooms, and digital tools. What are your first steps to prepare, and how can this change benefit you and your students?

Today's students are quite different from students of the past. Learners of today are considered digital natives, a term used for those who have grown up with technology and access to devices. They've never known a world without an Internet-ready device, but also never formally learned how to use it. This way of living impacts how, when, what, and why they learn.

It is up to teachers, media specialists, and administrators to lead this next generation of learners.

Digital Leadership

Leadership in the digital age can take on a variety of forms. As part of your new committee, you check out the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which has created standards for the incorporation of technology into the curriculum. These standards provide a framework for your school's vision of digital resource use.

Teachers or library media specialists can build community by incorporating digital resources into:

  1. serving on instructional technology committees
  2. contributing towards the shared vision of the building or district
  3. planning for the professional development of others

For example, when presenting a tech tip at a faculty meeting, use a free digital resource like Kahoot! to survey staff and provide some formative assessment. As a leader in instructional technology, it is your job to get the word out and showcase what your students and staff are doing with digital tools.

Use your district website, social media platforms, and emails to give specific examples of teachers and students creating projects using digital tools.

Always a Student

Adult Learning

In your role as an ambassador for the use of digital tools, your own personal learning of current resources and research is important. Before you can share knowledge with others, you need to spend quality time learning about current trends in education, and new or updated tools that can enhance learning.

Continue your own professional development by:

  • following leaders on social media
  • sharing what you learned online and personal networks
  • attending conferences in your field
  • reading articles online and in print
  • networking with others in your field

Instructional Implications

The use of digital tools combined with strategic digital leadership leads to a change in classroom instruction and ultimately, student learning. With access to digital tools 24-7, students can learn anywhere, anytime.

The traditional model of teaching involves the teacher presenting the content in class, and the students doing work assigned at home. Instead, many teachers are choosing to utilize a flipped classroom model, which reverses that order. Students learn content at home online and then spend their classroom time in guided practice and creative projects.

In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures or instructional videos on their own time, while doing work or projects in class.
youtube

This more interactive model allows for students to learn according to their learning styles, ability, and circumstances. They get more time with the teacher to ask questions and get clarification on concepts they learned the lectures watched at home.

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