Envisioning An Innovative Learning Specialist

In our district, we are fortunate to have both certified technology teachers and teacher-librarians in many of our schools. Our department is currently brainstorming ways to maximize these positions to better assure that all students obtain 21st century skills. My task was to write a vision of what the certified technology teacher position might evolve in to – beyond teaching isolated technology skills on a fixed schedule. This could be applied in all school levels. What do you think? What would you add or change?

The Innovative Learning Specialist or Coach is responsible for helping teachers to seamlessly integrate technology and other strategies into their daily teaching practice in order to boost students’ 21st century skills. The goal is to transfer responsibility for technology tool instruction to the classroom teacher (and in many cases, to the students)  so that the ILS time can be spent collaborating to plan, co-teach, and co-assess students’ 21st century skills through standards-based inquiry-driven units of learning.

Through systemic collaboration with all classroom teachers, using a backwards design model, the ILS brainstorms and plans with teachers how to build learning experiences that are standards driven, yet also give students opportunities to regularly use technology, when appropriate, and practice 21st century skills. The ILS works in concert with the certified teacher-librarian and often they collaborate as a team with teachers. Together, they may collaborate with teachers to co-plan units that are driven by overarching essential questions and enduring understandings that cross multiple content areas, including “specials” such as art, music, PE and world languages. The units are inquiry-driven, project-based and are relevant to students. The ILS, with the teacher-librarian, track student progress on mastering 21st century skills through formative assessments, which are given equal weight to content standards.

The ILS has a flexible schedule, allowing him/her to plan and co-teach longer units as needed, when needed. With administrator support, the ILS will assure that every student has an opportunity to participate in these rich standards-based units. The expectation will be that every teacher will collaborate with the ILS on a regular basis throughout the school year. The teaching and learning occurs in the classroom or library “learning commons.” Wireless laptops, netbooks, iPads,tablets, iPod Touches, and/or other personal digital devices are used by students.

A large part of the ILS responsibility will be to deliver professional development to staff in a differentiated manner to assure every teacher has the technology skills needed to successfully facilitate learning through technology when the ILS is not available. The ILS will stay current with the latest technologies – hardware, software, and web tools- through participation in a professional learning network, and will routinely share new technologies and strategies with the staff through modeling and direct instruction. As the teacher’s skills with technology grow, the ILS will be able to shift more and more to the role of a collaborative coach and instructional design partner. The ILS, with the teacher-librarian, will co-chair the school’s 21st Century Learning Committee. (formerly known as the technology committee and Educational Technology-Information Literacy – ET-IL committee) Together, they will assure that all technology purchases support the school’s learning goals, and the committee is guided by student learning needs rather than focused on the tools.

Author: Nancy White

Learner, Curator, Innovator, Teacher, Librarian, and Collaborator. Passionate about designing learning that is engaging, relevant & sticks. 20+ years in education.

2 thoughts on “Envisioning An Innovative Learning Specialist”

  1. Hi Nancy,

    I have been tasked with creating a brand new position at my school and found this post by you. I was wondering if I could use some of your suggestions to create a job description for the new role. Did this role work in the school where it was implemented? Were there any changes that you made?

    The title and job description I have at the moment are very vague- Coordinator of Innovative Learning. To instruct teachers how to integrate technology into pedagogy.

    Thank you for your help and insight,



  2. Clare,
    Absolutely, please use whatever is useful for you. We are actually just implementing this in the coming school year. We are calling this position “Digital Learning Coach.” We modified it a bit based on the ISTE Coaching White paper and other ISTE resources.


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