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Overcoming the Digital Divide, Step Three: Provide Resources

By Alina O'Donnell
 | Sep 08, 2017

Teacher TrainingThis is the third installment of a four-part, how-to blog series on overcoming the digital divide, an extension of ILA’s latest brief.

As we discussed last week, closing the digital divide requires a multipronged approach that pairs access and connectivity with strong pedagogy and training. Technology changes quickly, and professional development (and teachers) often lags behind; a recent Education Week Research Center study found a near 10% disparity between high- and low-income teachers and their access to technology training.

Most districts lack the time, staff, and money to support on-site professional development activities. Luckily, the availability of free information for supporting classroom instruction is at an all-time high. Online books, blogs, podcasts, videos, and learning networks are increasing access to professional development, especially in underserved communities.

Peggy Semingson, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington, sees open education resources and self-directed teacher education as the future of 21st-century learning. She’s demonstrated the effectiveness of these tools through her own YouTube channel, blog, and podcast.

“The whole idea of teacher professional development is increasingly decentralized away from formal training led by schools, districts, or outside vendors. Increasingly teachers are taking learning into their own hands via social media (e.g., Twitter), digital platforms, and mobile learning (m-learning),” she said in a recent interview with Literacy Beat.

Semingson also studies teacher-to-teacher knowledge sharing via professional learning networks (PLNs), where teachers connect, collaborate, and share resources such as forums, lesson plans, and classroom activities.

“We are all seeing and participating in self-directed learning, or what I call ‘DIY PD,’ such as scheduled Twitter chats, hashtag learning and awareness, crowdsourced resources, and direct teacher-to-teacher supports,” she said. “I appreciate the grassroots nature of these types of digital learning activities that teachers can participate in.”

With so much high-quality content available online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To save you time, we compiled a list of some of the most widely recommended free and affordable resources for 21st-century teaching and learning.


Professional Learning Networks (PLNs)




For more resources, check out Edutopia’s “DIY Professional Development: Resource Roundup” and Edudemic’s “The Teacher’s Guides to Technology and Learning.”

To explore the rest of this four-part series, visit the links below:

Overcoming the Digital Divide, Step One: Increasing Funding for Technology and Internet Access

Overcoming the Digital Divide, Step Two: Critically Frame 21st-Century Skills

Overcoming the Digital Divide, Step Four: Advocate

Alina O’Donnell
 is the editor of
 Literacy Daily.

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