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A Certificate for 21st-Century Teachers

As districts transition into the digital age, technology certification programs are growing in number to meet the needs of tech-savvy students.

In July, Leading Edge Certification (LEC), a national certification program in educational technology and curriculum innovation, will launch one such program known as Digital Educator certification to help teachers enhance their use of classroom technology. LEC, an organization created by an alliance of nonprofits, universities, and educational agencies, is platform and vendor neutral. The Digital Educator certification will take six to eight weeks to complete, and will be offered online and face-to-face.

Common Core State Standards and one-to-one initiatives are changing how technology is used in the classroom, emphasizing embedding computer skills into learning activities, according to Burt Lo, Digital Educator certification program chair. “We helped guide this curriculum to be focused on the classroom teacher, so they can develop the pedagogy and methodology to use whatever technology they have in the classroom to make technology-rich learning activities for their students,” says Lo. “The focus is not on a specific technical tool, but on what they have available, and how they can use that to impact the teaching and learning in their classroom.”

Teachers will move through eight modules, including Digital Literacy and Citizenship, Data Literacy, Learning Environments, and Communication and Collaboration. Each module will involve taking in content, such as online reading or video instruction, discussion with other classroom teachers, and content development. Teachers will create and deliver a lesson for their students, and then share and reflect on the work produced with those in the certification group. Upon completion, teachers will be able to showcase their work in a portfolio of technologyenhanced projects, Lo says.

The curriculum is being developed based on Common Core standards, the U.S. Department of Education National Education Technology Plan, and the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). While the certification will give teachers new tools to embrace technology, it is not for beginners. “The curriculum is not meant to be a how-to,” Lo says. “It’s really meant to impact student instruction and learning.”

Alliance members, including the Orange County Department of Education and Common Sense Media will offer the certification on a quarterly basis. 

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