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How do you choose the best digital resources in your school?

Started by Tessa Gray 23 Jun 2015 9:37am () Replies (4)

I’ve just read this article on, BEST PRACTICES FOR EVALUATING DIGITAL CURRICULA (Tim Hudson, PhD) which talks about evaluating the value of digital resources in the Curriculum (America). This paper recognises the potential for digital resources and blended ways of working and then I read this:

What’s interesting about the term “blended learning” is that we don’t typically see the term “blended” used outside of the educational sphere. For example, there aren’t “blended” hospitals that practice “blended healing”.

And it reminded me of this little video:

If we are true converts and believe blended models of learning (with the appropriate e-tools) infused through an authentic Curriculum can deepen student understanding, critical thinking, and independent problem-solving capabilities, how do we make good decisions as teachers about what tools best meet the needs of our students? We’re all busy in our mahi after all.

The article goes on to say, as educators we know what is good evidence-based practice, but we need to have constant conversations about what we know about the brain, how we learn best (see page 4 for definitions) and how digital resources can honor these principles.

“… educators should create or adopt both print and digital resources that not only honor effective and research-based principles of learning, but will also truly align with the defined learning goals and evidence of learning to be collected.”

So this sounds amazing at a theoretical level and there’s no shortage of great resources on offer, like The 50 Best Apps and Resources For WritersSo, here’s my question. After your teachers have defined the learning outcomes they want for their students (based on their learning needs), how do you and your staff go about choosing digital resources, apps, tools etc to enhance learning experiences and achieve learning outcomes? Do these align with what we know and understand about learning? Is this a collective or individual decision?

For example:


STEP 1: My literacy progression goal for my students is:

Finding and learning the meanings of unknown vocabulary by using strategies such as applying their knowledge of how words work or seeking explanations in the text or illustrations.

STEP 2: I can use some of the digital resources shared in the Literacy Progressions and e-Learning wiki to help increase student thinking, independence and problem solving.

STEP 3: Is there a way for me to show the correlation between using these e-tools and an increase/improvement in the intended learning goal in STEP 1?

STEP 4: Would Teaching as Inquiry help to share impact - as a mini form of research perhaps? Could this information feed into a collective understanding across the school?

I’d love to hear how schools are choosing the best tools for 'best practice'. Do you up-skill staff in PLD? Is there a shared data-base? Are digital resources accessible in an intranet?

I’d also love to hear how you develop shared understandings about the value of these resources in your syndicate/faculty/school. Do you share Teaching as Inquiry findings? Are there on-going conversations about, Evaluating e-learning implementation as well?


  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 25 Jun 2015 11:35am ()

    Hi Tessa,

    this post really resonates with what is on my mind at the moment. I love your little video and I have shared it on as it is a great discussion starter!

    What appears natural to you and I, the constant reflection on how we could enhance the learning experience for our students, is nothing new, in fact good educators have doing this for a long time - I like to think of it as a spiral, sometimes a bit wonky, but ultimately always aiming at going up higher.


    However, in the rat race of every day in our time-poor society, it is easy to just go for the tried and trusted - but when we talk about digital technology, things always change!

    The focus on learning is absolutely vital, and the digital tool is just that - a tool (I have had some funny looks about this statement at times, but I stand by it, we are in the business of learning, not in the business of e-tools!). Many teachers can feel overwhelmed by all the expectations that are placed on them - which includes staying up to date with technology developments :0!

    Teachers are learners, and I think it is vital that just like our students in the classroom, PL for teachers is scaffolded - the Teaching as Inquiry cycle is a great tool that teachers should consider (but like with everything, not everything suits everyone at all times). Just like with our students in the classroom, some teachers are more independent learners, others need more guidance. I think it is the role of teachers as well as team leaders, school leadership teams, consultants etc. to identify what level of support is suitable for individual teachers ('Know thy learners!'), keeping the professional responsibility of a teacher to up-skill in mind. This support could come from a variety of sources, incl. students!

    This year I have worked with teachers to become peer coaches, with an emphasis on asking the right questions to support other teachers - not having all the right answers. It has been fantastic to see how this approach empowers all partners in the coaching relationship - and it does not need to take a lot of time. My favourite question to ask in a coaching conversation is "How could we find out more about this?". We have discussed utilising online groups, or creating our own groups to ask questions, share ideas and to collaborate. Collaborative tools (may it be Google Docs, Sites or OneNote etc.) are really useful tools to assist the in-house but also inter-school collaboration. 

    As for assessment: I don't think we will ever be able to say that this one tool or this one application has made a difference to Student X's grades - learning is much more complex than this. However, there are some great examples of individual students, classes and schools raising achievement after they had re-thought the way learning was happening in their environments incl. the use of digital tools. One video we just shared recently with a group of coaches is from Dallas Primary School in Victoria, AUS, and they mention how as part of the process NAPLAN results improved. Was that because the teacher used a particular  iPad app at one particular time? I doubt it, I believe it is the overall approach that makes the difference.

    So in response to your questions in the title:

    • Look at the learning
    • Know your learners (children and adults)
    • Use a scaffold and support those learners that require additional support
    • Consider ongoing support for teachers in the form of peer coaching
    • Utilise online fora and collaborative tools to work together - several brains are better than just one
    • Repeat over and over

    and I believe that student achievement will reflect your efforts.


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