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Creating Capacity Using Asynchronous Edtech Supports

Creating time and energy to offer deeper support around edtech

Overview

One of the most important responsibilities of school- and district-level edtech leaders is ensuring their teachers have access to a menu of support structures that foster their ability to use technology effectively in their schools and classrooms. These structures can take a number of forms, including direct technology-integration coaching, the identification of model users and edtech champions, and professional development opportunities, among others. However, depending on the size of a school or district’s edtech leadership team and how it is organized, these synchronous supports can be difficult to develop and meaningfully sustain. By incorporating asynchronous learning opportunities, edtech teams can provide on-demand access to a range of differentiated resources for their educators – and, further, create needed capacity, allowing educators to spend their time on other priorities.

As part of the MA EdTech Peer Learning Cohort, the Barnstable Public Schools (BPS) Instructional Technology team incorporated this strategy. The team of three, consisting of the district’s Director of Technology and two Instructional Technology Specialists, is responsible for a number of duties across the district’s nine schools, including responding to technical assistance requests, overseeing and maintaining district devices, and supporting teachers with technology integration. In order to spend more of their time and energy directly supporting educators with technology integration, the team created a series of asynchronous supports that can be used to troubleshoot basic technical issues and learn about the ways to use common edtech tools. The asynchronous offerings the team developed are detailed below.

  • Monthly Edtech Newsletters: The BPS Instructional Technology team creates monthly, district-wide newsletters that remind readers of district edtech priorities and goals, communicate relevant and timely technology-related updates, and provide quick tips and tricks about the use of specific edtech tools.

  • How-To Videos: In addition to sending out a monthly edtech-focused newsletter, the BPS Instructional Technology team created a YouTube channel to which they regularly post short, how-to videos that walk viewers through key processes and troubleshooting, for both their district's devices and their most commonly used edtech programs.

  • Self-Paced Training Modules: Finally, the BPS Instructional Technology team is developing a series of asynchronous professional development modules, beginning with a module titled “Creating with Canva” that demonstrates how Canva can be used to showcase student learning. The team is working to develop additional asynchronous courses that are research-based and dive deeper into effective and powerful use around specific tools. Educators who complete the modules will receive credit for continued education and professional development.

Given their small team, leaders at BPS take time to consider whether their efforts are having the intended impact. To answer this question, the team monitors and analyzes several data points, including newsletter email open rates, view counters on how-to video views, and the number of asynchronous course completions. However, this data only tells part of the story. In order to understand how these supports work together toward their goal of increasing the amount of time that they get to work directly with teachers and other instructional leaders, the team is looking closely at three additional metrics:

  • First, they are looking at increases or decreases in the number of help-desk requests they receive.

  • Second, they are analyzing the types of questions their help-desk encounters to monitor for any changes (e.g., if their teachers are submitting fewer technical questions like how to log into a platform).

  • Third, they are examining the amount of time they spend collectively responding to these help-desk requests.

These metrics, and changes in the data surrounding the metrics over time, are key in understanding whether the district’s current menu of asynchronous opportunities works as intended, and if they are achieving the team’s long-term goal of creating additional capacity to directly support teachers and other instructional leaders.

Developing Asynchronous Offerings

This case demonstrates several practices that can be replicated to create additional capacity for edtech leaders. These leaders can consider the following ideas to craft their own menu of asynchronous offerings:

  • Newsletters: These communications are designed to provide brief updates and direct readers to existing resources, and can be used in conjunction with other asynchronous offerings to encourage their use.

  • Instructional Videos: When creating videos, consider providing screen-shares, recordings of tools in use, and voice-overs that explain how to navigate and utilize tools. As part of ongoing support, consider incorporating frequently asked questions received from users and other stakeholders to target the most relevant content.

  • Asynchronous Training Modules: Training modules should provide multiple on-ramps and differentiated starting points for users, cover information that spans the underlying research that makes a tool or practice promising, demonstrate how the tool can be used, and offer users a chance to use the tool and demonstrate their learning. To encourage deeper engagement with asynchronous modules, consider developing a note-catcher for users that can guide their participation.

Additional resources that can help edtech leaders develop asynchronous learning opportunities to create capacity within their teams can be found in the Implementation section of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s EdTech Systems Guide. It includes several strategies that can be used to help plan both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities as part of the initial rollout of an edtech tool and the plan for sustaining long-term implementation supports.


Strategy Resources


Edtech Support YouTube Channel from Barnstable Public Schools

The Barnstable Public Schools Instructional Technology team uses a YouTube channel to house a... Learn More

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Edtech Asynchronous Professional Development from Barnstable Public Schools

The Barnstable Public Schools Instructional Technology team creates online professional development courses that are available... Learn More

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Equity Focus

As with planning any training opportunities, it is important to solicit feedback from stakeholders from groups positioned furthest from opportunity about the structures and content they find most relevant, helpful, and accessible – and prioritize these findings. Additionally, consider what accommodations or accessibility supports these stakeholders may need to access asynchronous learning opportunities. For example, ensure that content embedded into or attached to asynchronous offerings passes accessibility checks, works with devices like screen readers, and includes alternative text for images.