Teachers College, Teach Away launch online program for K-8 educators to enhance digital literacy


Teachers College, the graduate school of education at Columbia University, and Teach Away, an international teacher recruitment company, have partnered to create an online professional development course for educators.

Digital Learning for the K-8 Classroom tries to address an edtech gap so that students are able to navigate an increasingly digital world. But in order to do this, experts say, teachers first need practical and focused digital literacy training that they can then use in the classroom.

Detra Price-Dennis, assistant professor in Elementary and Inclusive Education at Teachers College since 2013, created and developed the course content. She was a recent recipient of the American Educational Research Association’s Division K Early Career Award for her extensive research in the field of teaching and teacher education.

Price-Dennis said classroom instructors all over the country are inundated with tech products, and it can be difficult for them to parse everything that’s available. Teacher training programs are supposed to prepare new educators for 21st-century classrooms, but sometimes they are unable to stay ahead of the curve because of how fast technology keeps changing.

“Teacher education programs are struggling to figure out how to prepare teachers for the digital age,” she said. “Every day, new education technology is being introduced to the market to support teachers as they explore digital learning in their classrooms.”

She added that the course “provides a foundation for teachers that connects theory and practice to cultivate their understanding of digital pedagogy and support their development of digital literacy skills.”

The online program is self-paced, although it requires 30 hours to complete, and is currently open for enrollment. Participants can receive three Continuing Education Units for $595. According to the website, K-8 teachers will walk away with their own digital literacy skills, and the ability to develop those of their students.

“On completing the course, teachers will not only be able to evaluate digital tools and technology and their relevancy in the K-8 classroom, they will also know how and when to incorporate digital tools and technology into their curriculum in useful and creative ways,” reads the website.

More virtual professional development training will be delivered by Teach Away, which places certified and English as a Second Language teachers in positions all over the world, later this year.

“We’re thrilled to have partnered with the top-ranked Teachers College, Columbia University, an institution known worldwide for the highest quality preparation in the field of education, to develop Digital Learning for the K-8 Classroom,” said Rene Frey, Teach Away’s co-founder and president.

“Through this joint effort, we’re excited to play our part in helping teachers get comfortable with the quickly evolving area of digital literacy. By taking this course, teachers will discover practical strategies around developing their students’ digital literacies and setting them up for future success in the global digital community.”

Steven Goss, vice provost for digital learning at Teachers College, said the school “knows how essential it is for 21st century teachers to understand how to grow learners and learning for the digital world we live in.”

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.