During the pandemic era of “emergency teaching,” school systems across my state and around the country made deep investments in edtech resources. However, as we move into what some call the post-pandemic era, education stakeholders are searching for strategies to ensure that edtech investments continue to pay dividends.
In New Hampshire, library media specialists are playing a key role in driving edtech ROI. The state Department of Education has made excellent investments in edtech resources, and together with iLearn New Hampshire, has rolled out the Canvas LMS by Instructure, the Kaltura platform for media hosting, Zoom video conferencing, and Discovery Education’s digital K-12 platform to schools statewide.
Led by the NH Library Media Specialist Association, the state’s K-12 library professionals have engaged in dialogue around how they can ensure their school system can maximize the state’s edtech investment in their school system. Each participant approached this conversation assuming everyone else in the group had it all figured out or worked in a district that did. However, what we quickly discovered was that we were all grappling with the same issues. So, we worked to identify some common approaches to maximizing edtech ROI in our own district or school setting.
Here are the four most popular recommendations that came out of those discussions.
1. Create building-based digital tool coordinators
Databases, lists, websites, newsletters, and the like are all excellent ways to share information about digital tools and drive usage. Consider also having someone serve as the central point person for edtech resources your school. Establishing and using this role can be a great help in getting educators to the right person for targeted support, getting the word out, coordinating training, and so much more.
Library media specialists are excellent candidates for this in their leadership role, because they support all the educators and students in a school. Added benefit can result when library media specialists meet as a district team periodically. Digital learning specialists/technology integrators and coordinators are also excellent candidates. Whoever takes this coordinator role will serve their school better if they are members of school leadership teams and have the flexibility needed to support educators while they are teaching.
2. Incentivize use
Educators frequently seek administrator guidance for what they expect to see in the classroom or in use by students. Library media specialists can work with principals and curriculum leaders to foster digital tool adoption by making sure they know what different tools can do, highlighting best practices, sharing fun examples, and advocating for time for educators to play with and learn new tools. Creating fun challenges that leverage engaging digital content and interactive learning activities that can be shared, copied, and edited is an excellent way to foster use that is rewarding, rather than establishing mandates that simply seek compliance.