Dynamic Learning Project

Closing the Digital Divide through the Dynamic Learning Project

Find innovative ways to utilize technology within your classroom to benefit students with the Dynamic Learning Project!

How do you use technology in your classroom? Every day there seems to be a new app, website, or piece of technology that our students are using. Even though many schools are now one-to-one, this pace is not mirrored in every classroom. These tablets and laptops are being used for note-taking, basic research, multiple choice assessments, and presentation tools, rather than developing higher-order thinking and 21st century skills. Digital Promise calls this the “second-level digital divide” that exists between teachers and students. With their Dynamic Learning Project, they hope to close this gap.

What is the Dynamic Learning Project?

Dynamic Learning ProjectThe Dynamic Learning Project was developed by Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education and learning through technology and research. President and CEO Karen Cator proposed that the largest problem in education in our country is lack of equity in many forms. The Dynamic Learning Project was designed to provide equity in the realm of technology. Through personalized coaching, teachers will learn how to use technology as a tool to create “meaningful experiences for students” rather than test prep or drills.

What is the goal of the Dynamic Learning Project?

One of the main missions of Digital Promise is to close the digital learning gap by the year 2020. To make strides in this direction, the Dynamic Learning Project aims to improve education by supporting teachers with coaching, in order to better use technology in meaningful ways for student learning. Coaching was selected as a means to close this gap because it is a proven strategy for improving both teaching practices and student achievement.

As Karen Cator explains, technology needs to be leveraged in learning to help students develop skills needed for the future workplace. This includes giving all students access to and engagement in learning technologies. Technology can be used to develop 21st century skills including critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and problem solving, which is usually beyond what we see in the typical classroom. Students could be collaborating with classrooms on the other side of the globe, or analyzing live data sets collected by NASA. The problem is ensuring that teachers not only how to achieve these goals, but also feel comfortable doing so.

Who is part of the Dynamic Learning Project?

Dynamic Learning ProjectThe Dynamic Learning Project is currently working with 50 schools in five states across the U.S., including California, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. In each of theses schools, there is a full-time technology coach that provides personalized support, professional development, and mentoring. Teachers also participate in a school-wide and national community of practice.

What research is being done as part of the Dynamic Learning Project?

Through this project, Digital Promise is conducting research on effective coaching and leadership. In order to do so, they are collecting data along the way in order to answer two overarching research questions regarding coaching as a means to foster the use of technology in learning. This data includes survey responses from administrators, coaches, teachers, and students, as well as case study data of observations, interviews, and focus groups.

How can you get involved with the Dynamic Learning Project?

Digital Promise is looking for middle schools to participate in the second year of the program. In order to apply, your school cannot already have a full-time, certified, building-level technology coach. Use this link to submit an application.

Even if you do not qualify to be a part of the Dynamic Learning Project, you can take steps in your own classroom to transform your use of technology. Check out these resources from Digital Promise that outline the steps you can take to get there. Take some time to reflect on how you use technology currently and what changes you can make to align to 21st century skills. Consider how you can better use technology as a learning tool, rather than a search engine or word processor. It may push you out of your comfort zone, but it will be well worth it!

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Alexandra D. Owens

Alexandra Owens is a STEM Education consultant based in Charleston, SC. She taught middle school science for many years and is now completing her doctorate in STEM Education at Texas Tech University.

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