With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic closing schools across the country, districts are scrambling for ways to teach children who might be home until the end of summer. Moving instruction online and preparing teachers to use technology in their teaching is a massive undertaking. Multiple surveys (for example, this 2018 survey from PWC) report that many teachers in the United States do not have enough experience, resources, or training to use technology in the most effective ways, especially in low-income schools.
As district leaders look for ways to minimize disruption to children’s learning, edtech coaches can be great assets. In many districts over the last decade, instructional technology coaches have helped teachers integrate technology tools and strategies in their teaching in meaningful ways to advance student learning. Based on our research study on the Dynamic Learning Project, an edtech coaching initiative launched in 2017 by Digital Promise with support from Google and EdTechTeam, here are three reasons why edtech coaches can play a crucial role in helping districts meet the challenges of distance learning during this unprecedented time.
Edtech coaches have been closely working with teachers throughout the year, helping them use technology in their lessons and classrooms. As a result, they should be more familiar with teachers’ and students’ technology abilities than anyone else, and consequently can be one of the most accurate sources of information in terms of what should be in place to facilitate online instruction for teachers and students.
Moreover, coaches have had the opportunity to build relationships with teachers over the course of the school year. Their presence as leaders in districts’ remote learning strategies can help teachers feel more supported in facing their new challenges, and it can also help relieve stress by creating a sense of continuity in this transition.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools and resources to support online learning. However, identifying the right tools from the abundance of resources may be a confusing or daunting task for many teachers, particularly for those without much background in online teaching and use of technology. Leveraging their in-depth experience with helping teachers navigate the most relevant instructional practices, edtech coaches can help find the most appropriate tools and resources for different teachers.
With experience in helping teachers and students use technology in teaching and learning, as well as an understanding of the district’s goals, edtech coaches are uniquely positioned to support districts in successfully implementing at-home learning. Edtech coaches can also facilitate fruitful communication between teachers and district administration during this period of extended closure because they have a clearer sense of the obstacles both sides are facing. Since they are in direct contact with teachers, they are strong advocates for their needs, which can help districts ensure delivery of the most appropriate and relevant resources and support for virtual learning.
Edtech coaches can play a pivotal role during this uncertain time, as schools nationwide face long-term closures and scramble to implement distance learning programs. Because of their familiarity with teachers’ and students’ tech skills, as well as district goals, coaches are able to help identify the best tech tools for each situation.
Visit Digital Promise’s Online Learning Resources Library, where we are compiling some of the best resources and exemplars for schools and families preparing for online learning in response to COVID-19.