Some teachers and education groups are creating an online library of videos that will show exemplary practices for teaching with technology–based on two sets of nationally recognized standards–to help both preservice and in-service teachers use technology in the classroom more effectively.

The online library, called The Digital Edge: Accomplished Teaching with Technology, is a joint project of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). It was announced June 25 at the National Educational Computing Conference in Chicago.

“Too often, the student-teaching experience fails to address the complex challenges and opportunities new teachers face in today’s classrooms,” said Lajeane Thomas, project director for ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS).

“The Digital Edge offers powerful, technology-based resources for demonstrating innovative applications of technology for learning, and [it] promotes a mentoring model actively supporting prospective teachers with feedback on problems faced daily in the classroom,” she said.

The Digital Edge will house a series of videos created by a group of national board-certified teachers. Teachers who have attained this certification have reached the highest level of teaching ability, according to NBPTS, and only 9,500 such educators have been certified to date.

The board-certified teachers will videotape themselves teaching lessons in which they use technology effectively in the classroom. The lessons will be correlated to two nationally recognized sets of standards: the NBPTS standards and ISTE’s NETS.

The board-certified teachers also will “reflect” on the lessons they record. In the reflection, they will analyze and explain why they taught the way they did, what worked, and what changes they might make in the future.

“Reflection is a large part of the national board-certification process,” said Lynne Wyly, executive associate for special projects at NBPTS. The Digital Edge project “won’t just be a video and a lesson plan; there will be other scaffolding around it.”

Mentoring also will play a large role in the project, Wyly said. Some of the board-certified teachers participating in the project will mentor preservice teachers via the web. “As they are mentoring these new teachers, they will use all the [Digital Edge] resources as part of their mentoring,” Wyly said.

Although the library will be accessible to everyone, at least three teacher colleges–California State University at San Marcos, George Mason University in Virginia, and Louisiana Tech University–will begin using these resources to train new teachers in the fall of 2002.

There is an increasing interest across the country for preservice teachers to be trained in technology integration before they enter the classroom, Wyly noted: “Many states require technology competency before new [teacher] licenses are given.”

School districts that hire preservice teachers who have gone through this program will know the teachers they hire have had exposure to both high-level teaching experience and high standards in technology integration.

“Also, many schools are requiring technology training for in-service teachers,” Wyly said. She estimated the Digital Edge would be available for all teachers to use in the fall of 2003.

In the first year of the project, 30 board-certified elementary school teachers will create lesson resources for kindergarten through sixth grades. In the second year, another group of board-certified teachers will make them for middle and high school.

The project’s organizers have given the teachers some guidelines regarding what lessons they should record to make sure the video library covers a range of subject areas and grade levels. Each lesson will focus on a specific learning objective and each will best typify NETS and NBPTS standards.

“We want [participants] to pick the best examples of their teaching,” Wyly said.

Before any lesson resource is published in the digital library, it will undergo a process of quality control and stringent review, she added.

The board-certified teachers each will get an Apple iBook, a professional microphone, and a digital camcorder. The teachers will tape themselves using the camcorder, then edit the video with Apple’s iMovie editing software.

“By putting what you’re talking about on video, it’s a really rich way of showing what you mean,” said Don Knezek, coordinator of the ISTE NETS project. “It’s like learning a dance. You can read about dance and think about how the steps flow, but to actually see it is much, much better.”

There will be threaded discussions on the project’s web site, so teachers can discuss the videos they watched and the lessons they tried in their own classrooms. They will be able to ask questions and share their experiences.

In July, Apple planned to train the participating teachers to make and edit their movies. Also, Apple is building the web site that will house the Digital Edge project.

The AT&T Foundation awarded NBPTS $1 million to pay for the project’s other expenses. ISTE also has applied for a Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology grant.

The participating teachers made a one-year commitment to the project and will be paid an honorarium for their work. Their travel expenses to participate in group training also will be covered, and they will gather at the next Florida Educational Technology Conference for a peer review and demonstration.

Links:

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
http://www.nbpts.org

International Society for Technology in Educ.
http://www.iste.org

Apple Computer Inc.
http://www.apple.com

AT&T Foundation
http://www.att.com/foundation