TMC7 Armstrong

How can we ensure that all students have quality digital learning opportunities? 

by Lila Armstrong

Over the past ten years, much has been written about student use of technology in schools. From TPACK to digital wellness, by ISTE and school districts, there is clear messaging around the need for technology integration in all subject areas. However, there are gaps in student learning, teacher delivery methods, and healthy, ethical habits in students. How can we shrink the knowledge gap between district information and educational technology leaders, teacher-librarians, and classroom teachers so that all students are leaving high school with the array of digital skills and decision-making habits to support their post-secondary destinations? In this paper Lila explores numerous approaches to teacher professional learning regarding technology in learning, identifies gaps and challenges teacher-librarians to take a lead in addressing the problems and inconsistencies she discovers in her research.

Lila Armstrong is a former French Immersion elementary teacher librarian, who has recently moved into a high school TL position. Lila works in SD71, Comox Valley Schools, on Vancouver Island, B.C. Her professional interests include professional development structures and optimizing educational technology. Supporting literacy everyday is her passion. She has a hobby farm on which she and her family grow asparagus, raise animals, and she is an amateur beekeeper - currently running 7 hives.  

Read the paper. 


  1. Lila,
    I found it really interesting about the amount of time you invested into conceptualizing the Hub and Spoke model. This metaphor really helped you understand the workings of infusing technology into aspects of the curriculum in meaningful ways and how the TL plays into it all. If someone envisions it differently (i.e. the classroom as the hub), can they still meet the same goals? Why aren't those TLs seen as technology leaders in their buildings? If the TLs aren't tech leaders, then what are they considered to be by their colleagues?
    Diana M

  2. Diana, I must admit that I had a fairly concrete vision of an adaptation of the H&S model, until Carol suggested that the classroom teacher might be the hub. And now, you are asking about the "classroom" as an entity being the hub. This is where ideas are born: it's in the discussion and idea sharing! It's tricky, because even if we centre our teaching around students, we need teacher excitement and cooperation. I will admit that my elementary experience is not the same of others, but that is the gist of this paper. How can we make sure that the school culture isn't the deciding factor for students' digital skills and literacy experinces?

  3. And here is the crux: "Educators now tasked with stemming the tides of decreasing literacy may be torn
    between technological expectations without understanding how to effectively teach it. " We have to redefine literacy rather than add more expectations to the classroom teacher. We need to make sure that there is a technology rich learning commons and a qualified literacy teacher in every library space. Going back to my favourite train video we need to position early adopters as leaders in our schools. I like your word "infuse" technology -- it brings to mind an herbal tisane and the way the fragrance permeates your whole kitchen. You're right. If technology is to be integrated effectively and sustainably, then it needs to be infused as a natural part of the learning process. I really appreciate how you've highlighted how the infrastructure needs to support professional development. The most successful edtech implementation I was part of asked teachers to commit to 3 PD sessions over time (about 3 months) and were given a loaner device to use during this time. Each part involved capacity building based on the teachers requests. Watching their empowerment and the natural flow of assisting each other in elevating their practice was very rewarding. I'm looking forward to more discussion on this!


  4. Alanna, yes, yes and also, yes. I can't take credit for the "infusion" idea, but it's a good one! I think that forced distance learning changed the way many educators think about tech. Although many are more willing to use tech in their teaching and classroom, the deeper conversations around dig lit have not been brought along for the ride. From what I've learned about PD, it needs to have context (just like dig lit/cit needs to be taught with context for students) and ongoing, frequent connection seems to be a great way to help bridge the gap.

  5. Great paper. PD is a constant problem. Instructional coaches have a method they often use;I have been convinced that the difference we offer is that we roll up our sleeves and share the load of a learning experience that lowers the stress level. Suppose that the administration supported a three unit sequence between the teacher librarian and the third grade team across a school year. The TL would take the lead in the first unit, be equals in the second, teacher lead in the third. It's a teach and release method. The critical strategy is the Big Think session between adults and learners after each experience so that together we figure out what went right, wrong, and how to get better the next time. Each time we measure the percent of learners that meet and exceed both the TL and teacher objectives. It should rise across the three experiences. Well, just an idea to throw into the pot. Whatever the intervention, there has to be a track record.

  6. Thanks for your comments, David. I hope that some actionable ideas continue to come from my paper and through the discussions at TMC. I know that the Big Think had a big impact on my last time! I'm going to make note of your 3 unit idea and note the importance of a deliberate debriefing (and note taking) session after each session.

  7. Lila, my brain is spinning like that hub and spoke wheel! Not sure I have fully grasped this model in the education context, and I'm sure it will be brewing away in the back of my mind for some time. I LOVE Alanna's observation, "We have to redefine literacy rather than add more expectations to the classroom teacher." Being literate today means being digitally literate, media literate, and information literate within those contexts. It continues to baffle my mind that that does not seem to be obvious. You said it well, "We cannot simply deny teaching critical skills to students because we feel that there are barriers in our way."

  8. Thanks Anita! Maybe some more connections will come with the table talks.

    To anyone looking for the graphic, here is a view only link:


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