Wisconsin’s Janice Mertes highlights state’s digital content gains

Wisconsin, like most states, is searching for the best ways to manage the widening spectrum of licensed and openly available content for the state’s teachers, many of whom are now contributing their own, according to Janice Mertes, assistant director for instructional media and technology at Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction.

Mertes spoke with EdScoop during the recent State Education Technology Directors Association annual leadership summit about the growing role of open educational resources and a variety of technology and instructional media initiatives currently underway in Wisconsin.

In particular, she says in this exclusive interview: “We’re looking at how do you curate resources; looking at professional learning; and figure out what content can be traded between states and what’s the ecosystem that can make that happen.”

That in turn means resolving things like “What’s the meta-tagging component? How do teachers potentially search by standards? There’s a huge technical component to it, but also … we’re trying to figure out what are the most effective resources for students,” she says.

“We’re also looking at educators as designers — meaning how teachers can mix and match licensed content, open content and teacher-created content,” she says. “We want to move beyond teacher-pay-teacher conundrum that’s been occurring and see how do teachers collaborate with other teachers.”

There’s also a trend now toward fostering and capturing student-created content, she says. “We’re seeing a lot more development around this.”

Mertes also describes moves the state is taking to support broadband expansion beyond the school grounds. Like in many other states, broadband in Wisconsin “isn’t just a school issue or our agency issue; it’s a multifaceted private-public partnership issue.”

Mertes and her team are also monitoring emerging technologies — including the use of video-enabled classrooms, virtual school enhanced learning, makerspaces and tools that encourage computer science and coding, she says.

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