This Web site, established by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, centers around a rainbow-shaped info-graphic that depicts four skill sets—life and career skills; learning and innovation skills; information, media, and technology skills; and core subjects and 21st-century themes—supported by four groundwork systems: standards and assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning environments. The framework illustrates the concepts discussed in the Partnership’s 21st Century Skills white paper, which is available for downloading from the Web site. Clicking on each of the graphic’s sections brings up an in-depth explanation of the subject and links to hundreds of resources—including Web sites, lesson plans, and PDFs—that pertain to each topic. There are multiple ways to navigate this site, which makes it somewhat confusing, but perhaps most important to educational technology leaders is the Resources for 21st Century Skills tab. That tab allows the user to browse through resources by subject area.
The School 2.0 Web site, produced by the SRI International Center for Technology in Learning, hosts several useful tools for ed-tech leaders. The first is a database of resources—including Web sites, downloads, and useful links—that can be browsed by subject area or searched by keyword. An interactive, clickable map illustrates the ways technology can be used to break down barriers between schools, communities, and households. A “Reflection Tool” presents a series of questions aimed at identifying strengths and weaknesses in each quiz-taker; the idea is to foster self-reflection and professional growth. The site’s “Bandwidth Planner” explains bandwidth issues clearly by defining key terms and providing four detailed case studies for review, and helps principals and chief technology officers calculate the amount of bandwidth needed for their schools or districts. Lastly, the site’s “Transformation Toolkit” outlines a handful of activities to help bring students, teachers, parents, and community members into the educational technology conversation.
Technology Leadership Wiki
The Washington-based Consortium for School Networking hosts a Small District Technology Leadership wiki for educational technology leaders in K-12 schools. The wiki is designed to provide a collaborative space for district-level technology leaders to share tips, resources, and strategies. It’s divided into nine sections—leadership and vision, planning and budgeting, team building and staffing, systems management, information management, business leadership, education and training, ethics and policies, and communications systems—that CoSN has identified as the essential skill sets for K-12 chief technology officers. Each section lists the skills required to be successful in that area, related CoSN publications, resources to build skill sets, and relevant articles, webcasts, and other resources, as well as a place for ed-tech leaders to share their own experiences and expertise. The wiki is geared to school districts with student enrollments of 2,500 or less, but many of the skills discussed can be applied to districts of all sizes.
Smithsonian Education Resources
This site, maintained by the Washington-based Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, has a wealth of educational resources tailored to educators, families, and students. Teachers can browse lesson plans by subject, grade level, or key word, and then compare those lesson plans with their states’ curriculum standards. The lesson plans vary in length and detail, but most of them include a PDF of resources and links to related Web sites and lesson plans. Some of the features on this site are Washington-centric, such as the field-trip planner, which guides teachers through setting up a Smithsonian Institution visit, and the professional-development page, which lists events and workshops in Washington and the surrounding area for educators. Even so, there’s plenty here to make the site a valuable resource in classrooms across the country. Also worth noting is the student section, which includes a multitude of interactive educational activities for a variety of subjects.
Compiled by Katie Ash, a contributing writer for Digital Directions.
A version of this article appeared in the June 09, 2008 edition of Digital Directions