Maryland instructional tech director highlights plans for resource repository

Like many instructional technology specialists, Val Emrich started out as an elementary school teach in the Maryland public school system who found herself specializing in media and then instructional technology. Today she oversees instructional technology for the Department of Education for all of Maryland.

It’s a diverse portfolio that includes student and professional online learning programs, school library media, the state’s learning management system, accessibility of digital resources and coordinating efforts with the federal government’s #GoOpen and Future Ready initiatives. Most recently Emrich has been implementing the state’s Instructional Technology Plan.

EdScoop spoke with Emrich about that plan at the State Education Technology Directors Association’s recent leadership summit , as well as the state’s plans to build a repository of educational resources.

“We had thousands of resources created and identified,” as part of Maryland’s efforts to support the national Race to the Top initiative , a federal program dating back to 2010 aimed at boosting student achievement, turning around struggling schools and improving the teaching profession.

“What we’re doing is going through those to make sure they’re still viable and current, and at the same time meta-tagging them so they can go into a repository,” she says.

Emrich says Maryland chose Amazon’s Inspire platform to support the repository. When it’s fully completed, it is expected to work like a search engine for educational videos, lesson plans and games, allowing users to search by topics, standards, grade level and time to complete. The platform, initially scheduled to launch in June is still going through final development, according to Emrich.

“We’ll be working with them, once they’re live, and another platform and see which ones our teachers prefer,” she says.

Emrich also tells EdScoop her office is leading efforts to improve the digital availability of assessments to provide teachers better feedback.

She also stressed the importance of modeling professional development, saying technology directors need to instructing teachers the way we want them to be teaching in the classroom,” using more hands-on, student-centric exercises and technology tools.

Reach the reporter at and follow him on Twitter @wyattkash and @edscoop_news.