You lower your hands to the ground and feel the texture of the rubber track against your fingertips. You slowly inhale the clean smell of fresh-cut grass and feel the wind gently pull the hair away from your face. The referee stands to your left, ready to count down to the beginning of the race. You pause and close your eyes; you see yourself spring out of the blocks, swing your legs, and raise your arms in victory as your feet cross the finish line.
If you’ve ever prepared for an athletic competition, you may remember your coach telling you the importance of visualizing your moves. It isn’t enough to know where you want to go; you need to know the steps you’ll take to get there!
When we started thinking about how to support schools working to close the Digital Learning Gap, we knew we wanted school leaders to feel just as confident and prepared as athletes ready for a race. We knew we wanted to help them visualize the journey ahead.
The image below serves as a blueprint for how schools have successfully rolled out and used technology to support students, both in-school and out. We call it “The Digital Promise Journey.” For schools already on this path, these steps may sound familiar. For those preparing to take on the challenge, Digital Promise can provide guidance and help planning for each step along the way.
Each section represents one of the major phases a school undergoes as it works to provide learners with ubiquitous access to technology and powerful learning opportunities. Read on for a brief description of each step in this journey.
Getting to yes. An effective technology integration plan requires buy-in and participation from everyone. We’ve learned it is important to engage with district and IT leaders, principals, instructional coaches, teachers, and students, as well as the community.
Let’s get technical. To support powerful use of technology in classrooms, you need powerful infrastructure, including adequate broadband and wireless, a mobile device management system (MDM), and a clear device incident workflow.
It’s almost time. Are policies in place? Do teachers and parents feel ready? Are behavior expectations clear? Distribute devices at a celebratory event that is focused on learning, empowerment, and shared responsibility.
The digital divide has been bridged, and every learner now has access — at school and at home. Now what? How will the classroom change? How will students’ home lives change? What are the important considerations during this shift?
Educators can now take advantage of new teaching and learning opportunities, and embark on a path to powerful use.
Learners need more than access; they need to know how to use technology to learn. Educators and leaders maintain ongoing conversations about digital responsibility, and create a culture of safety and belonging.
As the journey continues, school leaders and educators use meaningful data to make course corrections and informed decisions. In addition, the school develops a culture of shared problem solving, community engagement, and continuous improvement, and openly shares stories of both victories and lessons learned.
Read this: “Making Professional Learning Count”
What does powerful use of technology for learning look like? When information is always accessible, teaching and learning changes. Teachers engage students with meaningful real-world challenges, and support personalized pathways that leverage each student’s abilities.
The end game! Students are confident and view themselves as learners. They select challenges to solve, connect with people and resources to support their own learning, and share what they’ve learned.