Plan for powerful digital learning by ensuring teachers have effective pedagogical tools and resources.
Leveraging technology for teaching and learning has the ability to transform the educational landscape. Digital learning can provide students with the opportunity to take charge of their learning, encourage deep thinking, and promote collaboration.
Content within this portion of the playbook speaks to teaching students generally. While these strategies will support all students, for information specifically on teaching neurodiverse learners—including students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 plans—in digital learning environments, please see the Equity and Accessibility Considerations for Digital Learning portion of the playbook.
The following are examples of topics to consider for supporting teaching and learning with digital learning tools:
The leadership team, in collaboration with teacher leaders, should audit their current digital learning tools and resources to identify software and apps needed to meet the needs of every student learning digitally. Some categories to consider are:
Other considerations for identifying and utilizing digital tools include:
Digital learning provides an opportunity to reconsider and adjust the grading and assignment requirements for schools, especially when digital learning is implemented in emergency situations. The leadership team might consider promoting competency-based learning, an assessment strategy focused on the mastery of concepts rather than time spent learning. This creates flexibility for students to learn and complete assignments at a pace that suits them supported by powerful digital technologies.
Competency-based learning is best supported with projects and performance-based assessments instead of traditional tests and homework assignments. This type of learning demonstrates skill mastery while providing students with choice, flexibility, and some agency over their work. But, it requires developing agency in students and partnering with students to create a way to demonstrate their competency that is motivating to them. Doing so can also promote more personalized learning and autonomy over the schedule and location at which learning takes place.
For teachers, assessments provide data on student achievement that can be utilized in decision-making around future learning goals and instruction. Assessing student learning in a digital learning landscape could differ from assessing learning in more traditional settings, but is especially important within digital learning settings. Digital learning tools provide opportunities for authentic and meaningful assessment above and beyond what is possible within a traditional classroom. Non-traditional assessment types enabled by digital learning should be considered to provide flexibility and personalization for each student, especially when paired with competency-based learning. For example, schools can use adaptive software that determines students’ correct level and provides lessons and assessments that correspond to that level, and technology-facilitated project-based learning that gives students the opportunity to work on real world, authentic products based on driving questions.
When grading and assessing in digital learning environments, consider the following:
Schools serve as a community space that supports students’ social development and emotional well-being. If digital learning includes a face-to-face component, the work of developing a classroom community will mirror community development in traditional learning environments. For classes that take place online, time should be devoted to building relationships with and community between students within the digital space. This could require different procedures than teachers generally use and should be considered during professional learning opportunities.
Social and emotional support is not limited to students; considerations should also be made for how leaders can support teachers and how relationships between teachers, students, and families can be cultivated within digital learning, especially in completely online environments.
Tips for supporting teachers:
Tips for supporting students:
Resources for Digital Learning
Tools for Digital Learning
Grading and Assignments During Digital Learning
Developing a Positive School and Classroom Community Online