For example, Mississippi Connects Digital Learning Education Guide offers lessons for educators hoping to find common ground between developing new resources from scratch and using existing resources that don’t fit their context.
The digital education guide draws on existing resources and the latest research to suggest best practices tailored to particular use cases in districts across the state, as well as the state’s education agency’s own standards, content, and priorities. ‘State. Each section of the guide includes links to MDE standards and tools and additional resources for educators at nonprofit groups and academic institutions.
The development of the guide was funded by the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropywith the support of CDW•G and Intel. MDE’s digital learning specialists across the state piloted the process, ensuring it was relevant to local teachers and staff who would implement the how-to guide. External support at the state level has freed district and school leaders from having to spend time and effort developing their own digital learning resources from scratch.
School, district, and state leaders can go this route: instead of reinventing the wheel, they can adapt proven approaches to local contexts, even if they don’t develop a resource as comprehensive as the Mississippi Connects Digital Learning Instructional Guide.
2. Invest in professional development and coaching in line with district priorities
From the start, MDE leaders recognized that professional development was critical to the success of Mississippi Connects. PD was included in the initial cost model for the program that was introduced to lawmakers and passed into law, but the form of that support has evolved over time.
Initially, the project plan called for friEdTechnology, the PD provider chosen by MDE, to offer webinars and other resources on best practices for digital education in general. Shortly after starting to offer workshops, courses, webinars, and virtual summits, friEdTechnology staff realized they were missing a step.
Amy Mayer, CEO of the company, recalls, “We found that we needed to connect directly with the districts of Mississippi, build relationships and provide them with opportunities to share exactly what they needed.”
In short, there was no one-size-fits-all solution to PD.
Elizabeth King, friEdTechnology’s senior director of project management for Mississippi, spoke with leaders from nearly half of the state’s 148 districts, allowing the vendor to identify resources that directly address the cited challenges. by each district leader.
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A similar logic was at play in the development of Mississippi Connects training program, an effort to provide one-on-one support to teachers and administrators on using educational technology and strengthening digital learning practices. This program offers a range of coaching materialsincluding classroom observations, facilitating a personalized professional learning community, and planning district-specific digital learning actions.
Not every school, district, or state educational agency will have the resources to provide intensive professional development or coaching. Yet all school communities can learn from a central lesson of the Mississippi Connects approach: the importance of making PD and coaching responsive to the specific digital learning needs and priorities of practitioners.
3. Commit to goals, but respond to changing stakeholder needs
Like so much else in K-12 education, programs aimed at supporting digital teaching and learning practices cannot remain static. Needs, circumstances and available resources change, and it is important that programs reflect these changes.
The Mississippi Connects program offers insight into how education leaders can manage such changes. Although PD and other support were built into the program from the start, the initial focus was on device procurement, distribution and connectivity. Over time, Mississippi Connects evolved as new circumstances and resources emerged.