Sunday, May 5, 2019

Recognizing the Digital Assets You Have at Your Disposal

We live in amazing times where readily accessible research and connectivity converge to not only transform practices but also provide the means to share them for the benefit of others.  However, there is a big difference between talk or desire to innovate and an evidence base that illustrates an actual improvement grounded in better outcomes.  Now, I am not saying that real results don’t exist.  On the contrary, I have seen this firsthand from some fantastic educators whose schools I have been blessed to work with on a long-term basis in the role of job-embedded coach.  I have also been blessed to observe great examples that members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) make available on social media. My point though is that there is definitely room for growth in terms of validating all the talk with substance.

We should all want to do better in this area as the field of education needs more practical strategies that are weaved into the rhetoric.  I am all for a great story that pulls at different emotions. When it is all said and done though, the teacher and principal in me wants a good dose of reality that clearly moves from the “why” to the “how” and “what” of the implementation process. The talk will only take us to a certain point.  The same goes for other avenues that are more popular than ever. Fancy images, catchy videos, and verbal hyperbole don’t go nearly far enough in articulating how change is being successfully implemented in ways that align to curriculum, standards, evaluation systems, varying socio-demographics, and budget constraints.  Together, educators can change this and help move the profession where it needs to go.

The digital world provides each and every one of us the means to show in detail how change and innovative practices are being implemented successfully despite the many challenges faced in classrooms, schools, and districts across the world. Talking about what has been done and the act of telling others what they should do has to be followed by showing what the strategy or practice actually looks like when successfully implemented.  Here is where educators can collectively show, not tell, how innovation and change have or are improving outcomes.  It begins with a focus on improving teaching, learning, and leadership followed by utilizing an array of digital assets at every educator’s disposal to share and amplify.  

Image credit: CATSY

Below I go into each in detail and how you might better leverage one or all. 


There is nothing easier than whipping up a tweet or update to be posted on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Text represents a great way to get ideas and strategies out there quickly and easily. The one downside with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn is that posts are relatively brief and often short on needed context vital to help educators deeply understand how to implement a strategy or concept. Blog posts are a great option to get into the nitty-gritty of change. More on this later.


A simple strategy to add more context to tweets and social media updates is to add a hyperlink to supporting research, mainstream media pieces, blog posts, or other resource sites. Artifacts such as assessments, lesson plans, unit plans, projects, and examples of student work can easily be converted to a sharable link using Google Docs. Links to your resources and work can be archived and annotated using a social bookmarking tool such as Diigo


Here is where you can really begin to leverage digital assets. Many of the shortcomings associated with just sharing through text can be overcome using images.  The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.  Instagram by far is my favorite tool for bringing more clarity, detail, and context to what I share online, but Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all support embedded visuals in any update.  When I coach, I love taking pictures of how educators are scaffolding (questions and tasks) and improving assessments as well as examples of innovative student work that aligns to standards. For curation purposes, you might want to consider either creating a Pinterest account or regularly updating the one you currently have. 


It is hard to imagine a more robust digital asset than images, but video definitely takes the cake. A one-minute video equates to well over one million written words. Think about how any educator can seamlessly film learners working together on a project, how changes to classroom design are being appropriately supported with needed shifts in pedagogy, and ways in which technology is being used in a purposeful fashion to elicit higher-order thinking. It is also a great way to openly reflect on your ideas and successful strategies being implemented in your classroom, school, or district.  I have begun to do this regularly using a combination of Periscope, IGTV, and YouTube. Once my live video is shared on Twitter using Periscope, I then upload the archive to both IGTV and YouTube. The link is then shared across LinkedIn and Facebook. Check out my YouTube channel for all of my reflective videos to date. 


One of the best professional decisions I ever made many years ago was to start a blog.  I consider this my most potent and practical digital asset.  Everything previously discussed can be meticulously woven into a post that moves well beyond the why to also emphasize the how and what.  If you are not blogging, it’s time to get over the hurdle.

In my books Digital Leadership (2nd Edition) and BrandED I go into each of these in great detail as well as provide specific strategies that can be immediately integrated into professional practice. I hope that more educators will take advantage of the digital assets they have available to share their amazing work in ways that are substantive in nature. Together we can show what indeed works, celebrate excellence in innovation,  and change the narrative in the process. 

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