Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I Don't Like Digital Learning Day

Admission: the title is a little clickbaity.

I love digital learning and have built my classroom and career on Instructional Technology and would plug my brain directly into the
Internet if I could. I think that we have a tools to change the world with modern Information Technology and we have to teach our students to use those tools in a world in flux.

But whenever I hear talk about Digital Learning Day (DLD), I think of some of the arguments I have heard to end Black History Month. These arguments usually posit that the role of African Americans in our country is too great to relegate to one month. Black History is an integral part of learning American History. The story of African Americans is one of the important facets of the story of Americans as a whole. But relegating it to a particular month, we are segregating and labeling it as a subset of the bigger picture.

This is my problem with Digital Learning Day. If you are reading this blog, you most likely don't need a Digital Learning Day. Most days involve digital teaching and learning. Most nights do also, as we read blogs and our timelines and constantly learn to improve our classrooms and selves.

Many of those participating in DLD will find some way to integrate technology into their classes that day. Looking over Alabama's CCRS standards and Courses of Study, I find several lessons that require the integration of a technology component. Alabama, as well as several other states, requires that all graduates have a digital learning experience.

But all of this is a tokenism of digital learning and technology integration. It is relegating it to a specific place, instead of seeing it as part of the whole.

Digital Teaching and Learning is not just about if the students use a computer and an internet connection in a lesson or unit. Technology integration is the process of using tech to collaborate, produce and create, as well as manage our time and workflow. Does every lesson need a technology component? Of course not. Especially when technology is rolled into a lesson just for the sake of using technology instead of improve teaching and learning.

The integration of technology should grow naturally from the lesson. What ways can we bring collaborative elements into this? What can students create for me that will make my lesson come alive for them? How do I get the students to use the Internet, the greatest information tool in history, to find information on our topics that is relevant and accurate?

We should also model technology integration as a part of our lives for our students. I have Google reminders going off all the time as well as calendar apps and task-lists keeping my deadlines straight. That information I am supposed to remember is either in Evernote or Keep. That file you need... it is in my Drive, or my Dropbox, let me share it with you. Technology can make our lives easier and more productive and a big part of digital learning is modeling that for our students.

I guess I do like Digital Learning Day. The thing I don't like about it is that it isn't every day for most people, educators included.

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