Digital Learning Is about More Than Tools

“To achieve a fundamental transformation of education and help students meet the higher performance set by the common core state standards, the very culture of how teachers are supported must change.” –President Bob Wise of the Alliance for Excellent Education,  Digital Learning Day, 2012

February 5th is the 3rd annual Digital Learning Day.  This event is coordinated by the Alliance for Excellent Education, an NCLE Stakeholder, for the purpose of showcasing examples of effective technology use in classrooms across the nation, and many more NCLE stakeholder organizations and foundations have committed to support this event in various ways as Digital Learning Day partners.

Schools, teachers, and organizations across the country will be celebrating the day with state and local events while a national celebration of instructional technology will be occurring at the Newseum in Washington, DC including a Digital Town Hall meeting.

Digital Learning Day

In reviewing the lists of events planned for this year along with the archive from last year, the examples of technology use in classrooms are amazing and exciting. But what about the professional learning and organizational conditions necessary for teachers to transform their practices and to effectively integrate technology in meaningful ways? This is the part of the story that is so often omitted.

Recently, I was catching up with a new teacher who holds a special place in my heart. This is his second year teaching high school science, and he described his craving to offer more engaging activities to his students—wanting them to get as excited about science as he is. Yet he struggles to find the extra time to investigate new ideas.  He told me how the Smart Board in his classroom primarily gets used as a screen for his PowerPoint presentations. I can hear some of my IT (a.k.a. instructional technology) peers gasping as they read this post, but most of them know as well as I do that this is not a rare occurrence.  Investigating a little further, I learned that the full extent of his professional learning opportunities in how to effectively use a Smart Board occurred during a small portion of his new teacher orientation process.

When we talk about the need for digital literacy, technology integration, and digital learning,  we need to remember that effective digital learning is not just about the technology tools that are available in the classroom, but about their effective and meaningful use in instruction.  Digital Learning Day should be as much (if not more so) about the ongoing professional learning needs and the organizational structures provided to educators to ensure their ability to continuously learn and grow in this area.

While not apparently on the agenda for this year, last year’s national webcasts on Digital Learning Day clearly highlight the importance of a collaborative culture, an environment of trust that encourages risk-taking, and opportunities for educators to regularly come together around questions of effective implementation. 

This is how we intend to celebrate Digital Learning Day on the Literacy in Learning Exchange—by spotlighting the professional learning practices, tools, structures, and conditions that lead to successful integration of technology in classrooms. 

The week of February 5th, look for featured NCLE content focused on digital literacy and digital learning for educators.

How will you be celebrating Digital Learning Day? Use the commenting feature below to share. As we showcase the use of technology in our classrooms, let us also remember to share the effective professional learning practices that lead to high quality instruction.

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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Digital Literacies