Over the past several years, the term “media mentor” has gained traction in libraries and early childhood settings to describe the skills needed to help families and educators think critically about various sources of digital media and to learn the capabilities of technology products and tools to help children. These are skills that are new and often foreign to those who work with young children, and education leaders will want to ensure that they are tapping into resources that have been vetted by early learning experts and are grounded in research on how children learn best. Professional learning systems—whether for leaders, teachers, caregivers, or librarians and other informal learning providers—will need to adapt and incorporate training on this kind of mentorship.
Fortunately, several organizations have begun to serve as hubs for information on media mentorship and have started to build training programs. The Erikson Institute in Chicago, for example, has a Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Mentors program that is empowering pre-K through third grade teacher leaders to incorporate technology in their classrooms. (See New America’s 2018 report, Extracting Success in Pre-K Teaching: Approaches to Effective Professional Learning Across Five States for more on this program.) In Harford County, MD, librarians in youth and children’s services are building a peer-coaching model, with input from families, in tandem with two other counties to test out an approach that could be used across the state. (Its Peer Coaching Media Mentorship Toolkit was published in September 2018.) Public media stations, such as KQED in the San Francisco area, are creating resources to help educators gain skills in digital technology use so they can help students produce video and multimedia projects; in a few cases, the early grades of elementary school are included. (For more, see KQED TEACH, KQED's collection of free resources for teachers.)