Technology cannot transform education if teachers don’t know how to use it effectively in their classrooms. That’s why Google, in partnership with Digital Promise and EdTechTeam, has launched the Dynamic Learning Project.
The initiative, announced Monday, aims to make education more equitable by giving teachers the tools, resources and training to better utilize technology. During its pilot this fall, the Dynamic Learning Project will target 50 schools in five U.S. regions: across Alabama and South Carolina, as well as in San Diego, Pittsburgh, Dallas and their surrounding areas.
As part of the project, a full-time tech integration coach has been chosen at each of the 50 middle schools, which were selected by Digital Promise based on need, existing technology infrastructure and innovative leadership, Liz Anderson, head of social impact programs at Google for Education, wrote in a blog post.
Participating schools had to have access to the internet, and they also had to show that significant portions of their student populations receive free and reduced-price lunches. Schools in low-income or underserved areas are most likely to be affected by the emerging “second-level digital divide,” a term that refers to the different — and, at times, ineffective — ways teachers and students incorporate technology.
Once on board with the Dynamic Learning Project, each school was responsible for identifying a qualified digital learning coach who could “support the teachers where they are, and support the school where they are,” Karen Cator, president and CEO of Digital Promise, told EdScoop.
A $6.5 million grant from Google will fund the project. That grant covers the tech coaches’ salaries, and it allowed the principals and coaches from each school to convene for a weeklong learning institute earlier this summer. It will also help provide the coaches with regional mentoring and guidance from the experts at EdTechTeam, a global network of educational technologists, and allow Digital Promise to conduct research during the pilot on effective coaching practices.
The coaches will provide professional development, mentoring and support to help educators use technology in a meaningful way. “We know technology alone won’t help people, so we want to invest in the people in order to augment their performance so they can be better prepared to support their students,” Cator said.
Google got involved because “access to technology on its own is not enough,” Anderson wrote. “Making [Google’s] products free or affordable doesn’t make usage truly equitable, and quality training is critical to ensure that technology is used in effective and meaningful ways.”
“While technology alone will not fix or improve education, in the hands of educators who know how to use it, it can be a powerful part of the solution,” Anderson added. “This pilot is only the very beginning of our work ahead, and we’re eager to see what we will learn and understand how we can help reach even more classrooms in the future.”