OVERVIEW OF THE DIGITAL LITERACY PROGRAM AT NPS
Concept and Goals
Teachers need ongoing professional development in the uses of digital media and technology in order to meet the needs of 21st century learners. A partnership between the Newport Public Schools and the University of Rhode Island’s Media Education Lab enables teachers to develop digital literacy competencies that can be applied in teaching and learning activities. The program is designed to:
- transform classroom practice
- expand the digital literacy competencies of all students in the school district by developing communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills and
- advance the leadership competencies of educators to promote integration of digital and media literacy in K-12 education.
Since 2015, a team of Newport faculty have been learning with Renee Hobbs as Digital Literacy Catalyst Teachers and this work is documented on the website: Digital Literacy in the Newport Public Schools.
Digital Literacy in Newport: A Peer-to-Peer Learning Model
We would like to continue to advance the capacity of Newport faculty to be leaders in digital literacy education by designing, implementing and assessing innovative instructional practices that meet their unique learning needs. Personalized and independent learning, with support from peers, can makes PD in digital literacy more personally meaningful, deep, and applicable; it also models the deeper value of voice and choice. We intend to build a self- sustaining structure and a culture of continuous professional development and growth.
Digital Literacy Mentors
During the 2016 - 2017 academic year, we will invite 12 NPS faculty to serve as Digital Literacy Mentors. In this role, DL Mentors support the needs of their peers in digital learning through collaboration, community building, tracking, documentation and self-assessment.
Digital Learning in NPS Faculty Meetings
All NPS faculty will be expected to engage in independent and collaborative learning for 30 minutes once a month in faculty meetings. During this time, Renee Hobbs and DL Mentors support both independent and peer-to-peer learning in digital literacy during contracted planning/PD time. Online webinars and individually-scheduled consultation with Renee Hobbs will also be available. Visibility initiatives will showcase faculty leadership and spirit of innovation.
Tracking and Microcredentials
Personalized professional development is important for faculty in the Newport Public Schools. NPS faculty will be expected to track and document their own independent learning this year. We would like to pilot the use of Google Educator Training Center and Bloomboard.com, a personalized online learning and professional development tool for K-12 faculty. All teachers can explore the professional development resources and choose the ones that are most relevant to their needs. Tracking and microcredentials will help the NPS community gain greater awareness of the talents and capabilities of the teaching and support staff employed here. Microcredentials can help make faculty expertise in digital literacy more visible. Microcredentials are more far more specific and granular than an academic transcript, college degree/certificate, or an e-portfolio. They can be earned through formal and informal learning pathways and can represent hard & soft skills. Microcredentials allow for innovation & individualization in learning modalities and help faculty appreciate the affordances of individualized, personalized professional development. Learn more about microcredentials offered by BloomBoard. Learn more about microcredentials offered by the Media Education Lab.
With support from Renee Hobbs and DL Mentors, NPS faculty complete a series of tasks that demonstrate their ability to:
- Use digital tools and texts, including the use of Google Apps for Education
- Gain knowledge about best practices in digital literacy in the context of their subject and grade level
- Design and implement learning experiences that integrate digital literacy into existing curriculum
- Assess student learning through artifact analysis, quantitative measures and observational data
- Develop, implement and assess project-based learning with digital media
- Develop new digital literacy initiatives at the grade level and building level
- Conduct teacher action research
- Collaborate with other teachers on digital learning projects
- Develop professional development programs for colleagues
- Offer coaching and support to peers
- As teachers develop comfort with integrating digital media into instruction, students become more engaged and motivated learners, thus improving academic achievement.
- The development of a leadership cadre of DL Mentor Teachers increases the quality of peer-to-peer learning among all staff.
- As teachers become more self-directed and independent learners, they take initiative to develop innovative uses of digital media and technology into the curriculum. Their joy of learning is contagious to their peers.
- Piloting a microcredential program for digital literacy may prove to be an effective way to support self-directed independent professional development among faculty. This will allow teachers to learn just what they need to become highly effective teachers. If effective, the program could be expanded in future years.