TFER Blog Post | Teachers <3 Digital Learning Day
February 7, 2013
Photo Courtesy Digital Learning Day Handout
By Omar Lopez, Director of Teacher Policy
Digital Learning Day was celebrated yesterday in communities throughout the country. I attended the celebration at the Newseum, in Washington, DC.
The Newseum was filled with teachers from the DC area and around the country who were interested in learning more about how technology can be integrated into their practice.
If you're interested in reading more about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the event, I encourage you to read this article. What, I want to do here is give you some insight on the conversations that you probably won't read about in any newspaper.
So, here we go...
One of the most obvious conversations I heard throughout the day - which I was glad to hear - centered around an important question: Technology can level the playing field for poor communities and communities of color, but how do we provide access to students whose schools do not have the infrastructure or funding to offer their students different types of technology?
The responses were varied, but a promising and comprehensive effort to answer the question was made by The Alliance for Excellent Schools' new initiative: Project 24.
For the next 24 months, Project 24 will attempt to give as many districts as possible the opportunity to become digital learning ready by providing the tools necessary to make the change.
Although Project 24 does not actually buy the technology for schools, it does provide support for making the right decisions. At a time when districts are having to do more with less, that support is just as important as securing the funding. Project 24 helps guide districts to assess their current digital learning strategy and determine the best path forward to effectively use technology to ensure all students are college and career ready.
The project is an exciting opportunity for districts and teachers to develop a framework for successfully implementing digital learning programs in their schools.
At the event yesterday, teachers seemed enthusiastic about the possibilities that technology could provide for their students and their own teaching practice if a successful digital learning program could be implemented in their schools.
Most of all, teachers were interested in the intersection between data and technology.
Data is often touted as an important component of raising the level of student achievement. When data is presented not just for volume, but for usefulness, teachers can use the data to better educate students and use their time as efficiently as possible. They no longer need to teach to the middle of the class (leaving high and low achieving students frustrated), but can target their instruction to help kids at all levels.
Another important conversation that I heard going on at the event was about how to balance digital learning in the classroom. Teachers need to determine how much time students should spend in front of a screen and how much time should be spent interacting with people in physical conversations. It's clear there needs to be both. But how to balance the two is something that teachers must grapple with in their own lives as the world becomes increasingly more dependent on technology.
What are some of the possibilities that the increase in technology can have for schools? What are some drawbacks?