Tammy Grissom identified a problem. There was no place for Tennessee teachers to go to find high-quality digital content aligned to standards. With help from Apple, Grissom created an alliance between the Tennessee Educational Technology Association, Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents and the Tennessee Public Education Foundation to develop the Tennessee Digital Resources Library.
“I’m such a digital immigrant, and here I am leading this,” she said. “I just had the vision, but it doesn’t mean I know how to do everything. Everyone has a place and is responsible for something.”
The project took a year and a half to launch, identify resources and enlist at least three teachers per subject in 14 of Tennessee’s high school courses. While the participants were all experts in their subject area, not all were digital curriculum specialists. Several Apple representatives helped them search for high-quality digital content. After being vetted, the resources went live as iTunes U courses.
Grissom understands that teachers have many demands on their time, so she enlisted the help of the American Public Education Foundation to provide stipends for the teachers who participated on their own personal time.
Phase two of the project has already begun and includes a partnership with the Tennessee Book Company and Thrivist. The partnership will provide a free resource section for all teachers, as well as a digital learning platform available for districts to purchase. Through the learning management platform that Thrivist developed, teachers can access both digital and print resources for their classroom.
“Just to say you have a computer in the classroom does not make your classroom better,” said Grissom. “Teachers have to know how to use the digital materials to help their kids succeed. We’re hoping this will help teachers streamline the process and allow a more diverse offering for personalized learning, as well as help our districts make the shift to digital.” — Jennifer Snelling