Digital Readiness Project

Preparing for this Project

As part of my work with the Seattle Pacific Digital Education Leadership program, students in the program worked with their organizations to evaluate key aspects of ISTE Coaching Standard 5. With a focus on digital citizenship, language from this standard guided development of key reflection questions regarding the work that each respective organization is doing around digital education. Essentially all of the questions could be reduced down to the following, how digitally ready are we as an educational institution? The following paragraphs describe some examples of topics that came out of that meta-cognitive discourse.

Promoting Equitable Access

The heart of our work is preparing students for college and career readiness at Title 1 schools.  This permeates all that we do at AVID.  With this in mind, we seek to provide teachers with professional development training that empowers them to support their students along the K-12 continuum and advancing toward college and career.  An important aspect of this is providing platform agnostic approaches and training.  This means that teachers can take back the pedagogical practices and applications to their classrooms.  In this way, teachers can utilize and apply as much as possible from our trainings to their unique educational context.

Modeling Technology-related Best Practices

AVID professional development seeks to model best practices in relation to educational technology.  The overall emphasis is on appropriate pedagogical and andragogical practices.  This ties into our instructional mantra of “Learning First, Tools Second”.  There are too many things to list that go into this effort, however, making college and career readiness connections is always front and center to our work.  As educators, we want students to be ready for yet-to-be imagined technologies and jobs.  At AVID, this means developing professional development that empowers teachers to scaffold critical thinking processes for students, engage with hands-on learning that’s also minds-on, make abstract ideas as concrete as possible, and develop an overall sense of empathy for their students’ journey.

Modeling Safe and Ethical Technology Usage

Modeling safe and ethical usage of technology begins in AVID professional development with the consistent adoption and implementation of norms.  This common understanding of what creates a safe place for the adult learners present helps to model and form the foundation for what this looks like online and back in the classroom.  Some examples of norms include monitoring digital device usage (mindfulness), asking questions, and engaging with an open mind.  Basic technology applications include safe searching online, modeling copyright adherence and appropriate citations, and balance required for effective blended learning.  All of these things provide a solid foundation for developing responsible digital citizens.

Facilitating Education via Digital Citizenship

Developing digital citizenship builds on the foundations laid through safe and ethical usage of technology.  Preparing digital citizens means bringing together all of the necessary digital skills for students to learn, grow, and apply as they become responsible online citizens and display good citizenship in general.  As digital platforms continue to grow as a medium for civil engagement and everyday life, students need to be taught the skills necessary to navigate this.  In many cases, this content is also new to teachers so teachers need support through careful modeling and effective professional development.  A lot is involved with this but professional learning networks can help as teachers seek to learn and apply ways to support students as they become digitally literate, digitally mindful, and authentic contributors engaged with a global audience.

Integrating SEL & CRT is central to AVID’s work

At the end of the day, online human interaction is still human interaction and so it all comes back to relationships.  By integrating effective social emotional learning opportunities across our professional development, AVID is able to provide culturally relevant teaching strategies in an empathetic way that is contextually relevant.  This helps educators to be mindful of instructional nuances that may exist across face-to-face and digital interactions while providing balanced instruction that is pedagogically appropriate.  In this way, teachers can meet students where they are at as we seek to educate the whole child and prepare them for what that means in both face-to-face and increasingly virtual environments.

Next Steps

Discussing these general areas among other ideas led to a great deal of thinking about what’s next for our organization in this area. That could be an entire blog post unto itself. Suffice it to say, we intend to continue reflecting upon what we’re doing well, identifying growth areas in our work, and building upon the strong digital education foundation that we’ve established in partnership with and for our fellow educators.


  1. Ribble, M. & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.
  2. International Society for Technology in Education (2019). ISTE Standards, Coaches. Retrieved from

Digital Learning Mission Statement

My mission as a STEM educator is to seek ways to advance the work of closing opportunity gaps and achievement gaps for all students with an emphasis on equitable STEM education. 

My Digital Learning Mission Statement and STEM Education

My area of focus in education is the integrated pedagogy described as STEM.  The content contained in STEM comes from within and across the subject areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, but is also so much more than that in terms of general teaching practices.  There is no nationally agreed upon standard for what STEM is and the multitude of definitions provided often vary by region and context, so truly defining STEM with a one-size-fits-all definition is next to impossible.  This is part of what makes my work at AVID as a learning designer so interesting to me, because figuring out STEM is equivalent to solving a 21st Century pedagogical puzzle (sort of a Rubik’s Cube meets Rube Goldberg scenario).  Helping guide educators through the myriad of STEM content, approaches, and pedagogy is at the heart of my digital learning mission.  I realize STEM is at times a subset of and at times not contained within the digital learning sphere, but this is all the more reason for me to craft a contextually relevant mission statement around this work.

Deriving My Digital Learning Mission Statement

Penultimately, my educational mission is to advance the work around closing opportunity and achievement gaps for all students with an emphasis on STEM education.  This means my digital learning mission statement is built upon this premise.  The current panopticon of STEM education in the American educational system is a mix of intentional and unintentional factors that limit participation by population groups outside of the male gender and Caucasian ethnicity.  Women and minority populations are often excluded.  While these exclusionary practices may be largely unintentional at this point in time, they are mostly a result of inadvertently perpetuated practices that at one time or another were intentional and ultimately developed into system of practices across societal structures.

The work that I do in STEM education and my digital learning mission will focus around breaking down instructional barriers common to STEM pedagogy and STEM activities, increasing access for students at economically disadvantaged locations, developing models of applied STEM learning that all students can relate to and see themselves present in, and more.  The professional development that I have the opportunity to jointly develop and lead focuses around taking abstract ideas from complex knowledge and simplifying that into more concrete and accessible hands-on learning opportunities.  In this way, confidence can first be built among educators who can then model and instill that with all K-12 students.  Increasing access means leveraging the reach of my organization and our partners to bring opportunities to locations and populations that wouldn’t normally have access to these kinds of opportunities.  Lastly, students need to learn about and see examples of a variety of STEM professions that they can both relate to and see themselves represented in so that all students can envision themselves as STEM professionals.

My digital learning mission is to seek ways to advance the work of closing opportunity gaps and achievement gaps for all students with an emphasis on equitable STEM education.  I will work to accomplish this within the broader reach of goals of the organization that I work for, AVID, while also leveraging AVID’s reach and impact to further the goal of making STEM accessible for all students.  In this way, I seek to positively impact the digital learning landscape and the global society at large.

Closing Opportunity Gaps in STEM Education

Closing opportunity gaps is a critical aspect of improving our educational system.  I hope to support this work through my efforts as a developer and designer of both student-facing curriculum and teacher professional development.  This means also thinking of myself in the role of policy maker as described by Robbin Chapman in “Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies”.  I’d not thought of my work from this vantage point before reading Chapman, however, his reasoning does make sense in term of overall impact and repercussions of my work.  As I work to develop and implement curriculum and professional development, I will seek to emphasize ways to enable and empower schools to provide additional opportunities for all students.  This responsibility often falls to schools according to Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges in “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends,” so it’s critical to support schools as much as possible with this work.  Additionally, provided my role, I can work to negotiate discounts and donations of materials for the large swath of Title I schools that AVID supports as a group.  AVID has already had some success in providing additional opportunities in this way through procuring robotics equipment and micro:bits.

Closing Achievement Gaps in STEM Education

Closing achievement gaps is closely related to closing opportunity gaps but different.  Closing opportunity gaps means increasing access for experiences so that all students can have those same educational opportunities.  In a lot of ways, there’s a component of equal opportunity there.  Closing achievement gaps requires equitable opportunity and support which may look different across a variety of contexts.  Some students experience more adversity and require higher levels of support to achieve at a given level.  Increasing access via programs like 1:1 computing can support this work, but the key is the nature of implementation.  In addition to increased support where appropriate, focusing on research-based approaches is critical.  Mike Ribble and Teresa Northern Miller speak to this in “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically”.  We need to prepare educators and the various professionals and community members that support them with accurate pedagogical information so that key stake holders can make well-informed decisions.  My work can directly impact these efforts by providing educators with access to information that will both support their instructional work and empower them to advocate for sound practice by the variety of stakeholders that they interact with in their roles, e.g. classroom teachers, instructional coaches, principals, district coordinators, etc.  Marc Prensky speaks to “Digital Wisdom” in “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom”.  While I may disagree with some of Prensky’s points, his overall emphasis on the need for “Digital Wisdom” is relevant in regard to making informed decisions around educational technology and important to strive for as part of the overall educational process.

Working Toward Equitable STEM Education

Working toward equitable STEM education circles back to efforts around closing the various opportunity gaps that exist.  By closing opportunity gaps, all students would have access to similar experiences with additional opportunities provided to those that do not have the same level of home support.  These additional opportunities in conjunction with research-based practices and approaches should lead to reductions in the achievement gaps that exist across the educational system.  Sound pedagogy is key, and this is where I can play a critical role as I careful and intentionally work to develop student curriculum and teacher professional development.  By providing teachers with the appropriate tools and resources then training them in how to effectively implement those things in their educational context, I can work to support more equitable STEM education. Most likely we’ll never actually arrive at Utopian views of education like those offered by Marcus Childress in “Utopian Futures for Learning Technologies,” however, we can continually work and strive toward this ultimate goal while making solid improvements to the overall educational system and a difference in the lives of millions of students along the way.

Connections to My Work At AVID

The organization that I work for is AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), and they’ve developed an integrated STEM standards crosswalk document.  I think it makes sense that my digital learning mission statement would be in line with this document as I work to advance STEM education in line with AVID’s mission statement focus of closing the achievement and opportunity gaps for all students. I have tried to make some of these connections obvious via my digital learning mission statement.  For reference, once it’s publicly available, I’ll publish a link here to AVID’s STEM standards crosswalk document.


  1. Chapman, R. (2016). Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies. In N. J. Rushby & D. W. Surry, The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology ( 287-300). Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
  2. Jones, M., & Bridges, R. (2016). Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends. In N. J. Rushby & D. W. Surry, The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology (327-347). Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
  3. Prensky, M. (2013). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. In From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (201-215). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  4. Ribble, M. & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.
  5. Childress, M. (2016). Utopian Futures for Learning Technologies. In N. J. Rushby & D. W. Surry, The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology (557-570). Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

STEM Summit

Brief Introduction & Description

The 2019 WA STEM Summit provided the opportunity for STEM leaders from around the region to converge, communicate in person, and collaborate around a common vision for advancing STEM education for all students across Washington State.  This work is directly relevant to the work of the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. 

Sessions Attended

The general sessions introduced and emphasized WA STEM’s increased focus on equity work and targeted application.  Historically, WA STEM worked to increase awareness around STEM education and the need to focus on this area.  That work is transitioning into a focused effort around closing opportunity gaps for all students in STEM.  Additionally, in lieu of awareness, WA STEM is now targeting early math interventions and conceptual pedagogy as a foundation for STEM education and high school STEM career pathways.  There is a need to broaden and recognize the role that the trades play and the importance of connecting students with STEM careers beyond just a focus on four-year degrees.  Finally, the general sessions provided an opportunity to thank partners and express gratitude for the role that they play in the overall work as amplified across all of the regional STEM networks.

The first of three topic-specific sessions that I attended at the conference focused on Computer Science in rural Washington.  The presenters shared about work done in the central part of the state in conjunction with the TEALS program.  One of the main challenges in rural areas is access to qualified instructors coupled with a general lack of localized professional support.  TEALS bridges this gap via video conferencing and by connecting new CS teachers with mentors in major metropolitan centers.  These mentors may be several hours away so in-person consultations are rare but online support can be relatively frequent.  The TEALS program practicing gradual release of responsibility with the goal of having new CS teachers self sufficient by the end of year three.  By developing both the human and physical infrastructure, TEALS proves to be an effective measure for supporting CS education in rural areas.

Centering Equity in Career Pathways session provided an opportunity for me to learn about work central to my job at the secondary level.  The emphasis on career pathways means that high school students graduate with a certification in a STEM-focused profession.  The modeled example centered on work being done in the Highline school district where local medical facilities host students working on their nursing certification.  The overall partnership connected schools, government, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations around this common goal. The presenters were directly involved in the work and spoke to the critical role that community colleges played in this partnership and growing opportunity for community colleges to support this natural blending of CTE and STEM at the secondary level.  Finally, the presenters spoke to the need for a multitude of certification opportunities across various careers needed at the high school level and to be open to all students.

The session on Progress and Challenges in Building an Equitable K-12 STEM Ecosystem presented an opportunity to hear from individuals in a variety of different sectors (public, private, nonprofit, etc.) and then to discuss with professionals from across the different area of STEM education.  The panel of presenters spoke to the various facets of the ecosystem and the inherent communication gaps that exist among organizations attempting to work in the same space and do similar work.  The panel then provided an opportunity for the representatives from different sectors to speak to how they actively support STEM education and what they wish others knew about their work.  Most intriguing to me, panel members spoke to what other groups in the ecosystem needed to understand and what was paramount for each to work on and accomplish for the extended ecosystem to be successful.  Ultimately, most of the requests centered around increased communication and collaboration in efforts in order to reduce duplication of work and increase efficiency and effectiveness of outcomes.

Brief Summary & Conclusion

As DEL seeks to support effective digital education for fall students, this work naturally dovetails with STEM education efforts.  The technology component is a natural overlap of efforts which anchors common threads throughout.  My work via DEL and WA STEM amplify the goals of both organizations and empower my efforts to help all students access a quality STEM education.