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How strong state leaders leverage ed-tech resources

State leaders can leverage their positions to support teachers

state-leaders-connected-educator-monthIn an effort to support administrators during Connected Educator Month, two state education leaders shared their tips for creating and sustaining online collaboration tools for classroom teachers.

Sponsored by the State Educational Technology Directors Association, the webinar aimed to demonstrate how strong state leaders can lead to the emergence of robust teaching and learning resources, along with professional learning opportunities.

In Texas, educators use Project Share, a collection of Web 2.0 tools and applications that provides high quality professional development in an interactive and engaging learning environment, said Karen Kahan, the director of educational technology at the Texas Education Agency.

(Next page: More from Texas, and what’s happening in Oregon?)One feature of Project Share is its focus on helping educators build professional learning communities, through which they can collaborate with other educators and participate in online learning opportunities.

State leaders at this level can help educators expand their influence and professional impact. For instance, on Project Share, teachers have created ePortfolios to share and highlight their individual accomplishments.

Some features are available to any user, while others are limited to Texas educators. For example, anyone can access Texas Education on iTunes U to explore educational tutorials and download personalized learning resources.

“It’s our gateway to getting resources,” Kahan said. “Project Share is all about providing resources.”

Using Project Share, Texas education leaders and teachers have access to more than 95 state-created professional development courses and certification courses aligned to state standards, all available for free.

Professional development resources include actual examples and videos of teachers in the state. More than 500,000 educators and leaders have Project Share accounts, as do more than 2 million students.

Carla Wade, the digital learning and STEM education specialist for the Oregon Department of Education, introduced attendees to the Oregon EdTech Professional Development Cadre, an online community where educators share lesson plans and professional development ideas and seek advice from their colleagues.

The Cadre, run by a team of educators and leaders across the state, aims to disseminate best practices in technology that target innovative technology integration in teaching and learning.

The Cadre site includes resources to effectively integrate technology standards with content standards, highlight exemplary staff development and design staff development structures to improve teaching practice, and to model and practice effective instructional strategies while demonstrating emerging technologies.

Site participants can use tools to create, post, and tag resources, which are then posted on the site for everyone to see, although sharing is limited to registered Cadre members.

Users also can view the state’s mobile learning Q&A site, which offers popular topics, questions, and mobile resources.

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