Reaching Digital Convergence begins with leadership. Superintendents, cabinet members, and other key stakeholders must work collaboratively to set a shared vision for the transition to the digital classroom. Once established, leadership must bring the vision to internal stakeholders and the community to gain participation and buy-in. This entails convincing community members to envision classrooms differently from what they remember, as well as assuring teachers that more technology will not lead to more complexity. Leadership must also work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a Digital Convergence plan, secure funding for long-term technology adoption, and create adequate training and support for sustainable and effective technology adoption.
In addition to effective leadership, reaching Digital Convergence also entails selecting, designing, and implementing instructional models that leverage technology and best teaching practices effectively. Unlike the traditional model centered on teacher lectures, blended learning offers a revolutionary paradigm that uses digital resources to drive student engagement, participation, and critical thinking, as well as enables students to benefit from the accessibility of online resources and learning methods. Teachers, curriculum writers, and other stakeholders must work together when determining instructional models, ensuring they match the shared vision and Digital Convergence plan established by leadership.
Also important to Digital Convergence is redesigning existing curriculum to incorporate digital content within the instructional framework. Creating modern curriculum requires curriculum writers, teachers, and other stakeholders to select appropriate digital content that fits the chosen instructional model, shared vision, and Digital Convergence plan. One school district provides an example of curating digital content to create a modern curriculum. The district chose to replace paper textbooks with online, open-source textbooks that allowed teachers to add or modify content to suit their instructional needs, including linking to videos and other resources.
With the prevalence of devices such as tablets and smartphones, stakeholders must collaborate to design an effective digital ecosystem. The digital ecosystem requires careful consideration and planning around the type of devices to implement and how they can be leveraged together, as well as how those devices will be supported by adequate infrastructure. As an example of a digital ecosystem, one school district provided students with tablets and digital microscopes for a biology experiment. Students used the tablets to take pictures outside, and the digital microscopes to analyze the images. The tablets and digital microscopes were used together to advance knowledge in ways not possible in a traditional classroom setting. Ensuring that the digital ecosystem is fully integrated and supportive of hardware and software brings the school district one step closer to Digital Convergence. However, stakeholders must build a digital ecosystem that fits the district’s shared vision, Digital Convergence plan, instructional model, and modern curriculum.
The fifth and final driver to reach Digital Convergence is Professional Learning. Teachers need education on how to use the chosen technology, and in the context of the instructional model and modern curriculum. Beyond training teachers on the features and functions of technology tools, professional learning must empower teachers to use those tools in new and impactful ways. Modern educators require instruction on when best to use technology, whether in class or at home, and how best to use it during their daily interactions with students. Teachers should also receive education on how to move from lecture-driven to student-centric pedagogy, in which teachers offer guidance and allow students to drive learning.