Trends in Digital Learning & the Teacher Librarian

The concept of personalized learning – the ability to effectively meet the individual needs of diverse students – is at the forefront of today’s educational conversations.  The ubiquity of inexpensive mobile devices and widespread availability of digital content is making this concept a reality in many schools, which is highlighted in the 2016 report of Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2015 Survey results: Trends in Digital Learning: How K-12 Leaders are Empowering Personalized Learning in America’s Schools.  The 2015 survey was completed by 415,686 K-12 students, 38,613 teachers and librarians, 4,536 administrators, 40,218 parents, and 6,623 community members in the U.S. and internationally.  As I read through the report, the following excerpts caught my attention:

“Across the board, principals from all types of communities endorse blended learning as a way to change the mindset of their schools to a more student-centered environment with outcomes that support the key personalized concepts.” (p. 4)

“Principals also identify the following other key challenges associated with more effective digital content usage in their classrooms:

  1. Training teachers how to use digital content effectively: 52%
  2. Balancing instructional time constraints between traditional instruction and digital learning: 50%
  3. Evaluating the quality of digital content for classroom usage: 48%
  4. Providing technology and Internet access in school to support digital content usage: 45%
  5. Locating appropriate digital content aligned to school curriculum goals: 38%” (p. 4)

“School district leaders understand the connection between professional learning and improved teacher effectiveness.  To that end, administrators across the country are focusing their teacher development plans around key skills and capacities that support changes in the classroom.  Not surprisingly, the top priority is to ensure that teachers know how to use digital tools, content and resources effectively as tools for differentiating instruction.  Teachers agree; their top wish list for professional development is also about how to use technology to differentiate instruction.”  (p. 7)

“From the Speak Up 2015 national findings, district leaders identified the following content areas as priorities for teacher professional development this year:

  1. Using technology to differentiate instruction: 78%
  2. Using technology tools for formative assessment: 62%
  3. Implementing a blended learning model in their classroom: 55%
  4. Identifying and evaluating high quality digital content to use within instruction: 52%
  5. Integrating digital content component into a comprehensive curriculum: 52%” (p. 8)

Why did these excerpts catch my attention?  Because today’s teacher librarians are uniquely trained and certified to meet each of these identified challenges and priorities.  To earn a California Teacher Librarian Services Credential, candidates must be able to:

  • Evaluate and select physical, digital and virtual resources using a selection policy, professional selection tools, and evaluation criteria
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of information and digital literacy, including the nature, architecture, and cycle of information, technology resources and tools
  • Model information literacy: how to access, evaluate, process, use, integrate, generate, and communicate information; and demonstrate competency in transliteracy
  • Articulate how formats and communication channels impact information and how information and ideas are processed and transformed using digital tools
  • Model and communicate ethical, legal and safe use of information and technology, including digital citizenship
  • Using both traditional and digital methods, design and provide curriculum in information and digital literacy to enable students to process information purposefully, ethically and effectively
  • Assess student interactions and learning and develop interventions to optimize student learning
  • Implement and evaluate developmentally appropriate content instruction, including different formats and venues (e.g., face-to-face, distance learning, and other digital environments) for diverse student populations

In the FPU Teacher Librarian Program, our candidates are provided the opportunity to master these standards within several courses: LIB 705: Information Technologies, LIB 720: Selection and Organization of Learning Resources, and LIB 740: Digital Literacy.

I was encouraged to read that the Future Ready Schools initiative has recently addressed the trends noted in the 2016 Speak Up Survey report by recognizing that school [teacher] librarians are leaders in the digital transformation of learning:  It’s an exciting time to be, become, or hire a teacher librarian!