With advanced digital tools under their belts, students grow to develop their own learning tasks—such as podcasting, blogging, or digital storytelling—that stretch their creativity, originality, design, or adaptation. These students think and act critically to curate content and apply information to address a range of cross-disciplinary tasks that are both creative and original. This could include collaborating with others using social media, networking, or reviewing. Their work requires their ability to select, organize, and present content through relevant digital tools, which provide multiple solutions.
Education and digital tools have become inherently intertwined. Learners and teachers alike are immersed in digital life and need more effective, specific ways to best use digital tools in rigorous and relevant ways to support and/or enhance learning. Educators must be able to develop and enact rigorous, relevant instructional methods and formats while learning about and using effective digital tools to underpin their instruction. As long as educators are clear about the learning objectives, technology can be a powerful supporting tool.
As important as teachers are to the purposeful integration of digital tools to support rigorous and relevant learning, ultimate success at scale lies with leadership. Leaders must begin to transform school culture in ways where there are actually fundamental changes in teaching and learning so that technology is not just a gimmick or tool used to engage students. The Rigor/Relevance Framework serves as a powerful instructional leadership tool to ensure learning is at the forefront with technology initiatives. It assists leaders in the following ways:
- Provides a common language for all
- Constitutes the lens through which to examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment
- Creates a culture around a common vision
Improving instruction in a digital world can only happen with fundamental changes to teaching and leadership. Pedagogy first, technology second when appropriate. With a firm instructional foundation in place, technology can take our students places never before imaginable while meeting diverse learning needs like never before.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
Want to learn more about creating a culture of digital learning in schools? Join Eric Sheninger, Senior Fellow for ICLE—a division of HMH—for a one-day institute in Palo Alto, California, on September 11, 2019 or Denver, Colorado, on November 13, 2019.