The goal of the program, now in its third year, is to “highlight educators that are tech-savvy and using digital media in innovative ways,” said John Sessler, outreach and engagement manager for PBS LearningMedia.
Teachers who applied to be Digital Innovators were asked to make video submissions showcasing how they are “advancing student outcomes and learning in the classroom through technology,” Sessler said.
Successful strategies for the Digital Innovators aren’t just about having digital devices, but about using technology to effectively engage students. When choosing this year’s Innovators, Sessler explained that the judges were looking for “educators who are finding new and innovative ways to integrate technology into their curriculum,” and fostering an environment that enables students to see themselves “not just as consumers, but also as creators” of technology and digital media.
The educators chosen for the program utilized a range of tech strategies—a physics teacher in Minnesota used a flipped classroom approach by creating his own instructional videos and digital content, and a band teacher in New Jersey hosted virtual professional development sessions to connect and share ideas with other educators across the country. Many of the Digital Innovators are also technology specialists and district tech coaches who “advocate for technology use in their schools and in their communities,” Sessler said.
The Digital Innovators will receive professional development, webinars, and digital resources from PBS for the next year. In addition to virtual support, Sessler descibed how PBS LearningMedia will “build partnerships for local networks to connect with teachers in their own communities” by allowing Digital Innovators year-long access to resources from their local PBS stations.
Thirty of winners were selected to be Lead Innovators. They will be provided admission to the 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Summit and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia.
All Digital Innovators will have access to a professional learning community set up by PBS LearningMedia in order to “provide a platform for the teachers to connect with other tech-savvy educators to share ideas and curriculum strategies,” Sessler said.
Photo of Vicky Hsieh, a literacy teacher at the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park in Pittsburgh, Pa., courtesy of PBS LearningMedia.
Photo of Clara Pena, eighth grade science teacher at Kirtland Middle School in Kirtland, N.M., courtesy of PBS LearningMedia.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.