Happy Digital Learning Day! Digital Learning Day is a day to pause, reflect, and discuss our instructional methods with technology, equity in access to technology, and growing as digital learning edcuators.
We all need to commit to digital learning. Digital learning educators embrace change, continue learning, listen to others, ask questions, and collaborate.
Years ago when I began teaching using the reading and writing workshop model, technology looked like a turquoise iMac desktop computer on a solitary table. Remember those? Its only function was word processing. Over the years, I have adopted a balanced blended-learning style of teaching in my classroom, and we use Chromebooks. My balanced blended-learning teaching style did not happen overnight. It evolved and continues to evolve each day. It continues to grow and change with each new app, website, or tech tool I try. Although it isn’t always easy or intuitive, I push myself to learn and explore new possibilities with technology. We can all be digital learning educators in our school communities.
Are you committed to digital learning?
1. Do you try new digital tools? When I first tried flipped learning, my first lesson was a flop. But I was so happy that I tried! I felt proud of myself. It was outside my comfort zone, but I learned a lot and the next lesson was a success. When you try a new digital tool you are learning. You are taking a step in a new direction and trying something new with technology. This is what digital learning for educators is all about.
2. Do you explore new websites and use them in your classroom? How often have you heard about a new online site and you checked it out? This is how I found Wonderopolis, Kahoot, Nerdy Book Club, and just yesterday- Stormboard– a site similar to Padlet that has virtual graphic organizers for brainstorming ideas. Try it out. See if it might work for your students. When you explore new sites and bring a fresh, new digital site to your classroom, you are being a digital learning educator. Share your knowledge too! Bring your new find to a faculty meeting, a grade level meeting, or blog/twitter post.
3. Do you do professional development through social media like Twitter? Join twitter and get involved with online professional development. Not only will you learn about so many awesome new digital tools to use with your students, you can meet some many new people who share your interests and passions. You become a digital learning educator when you connect and share with others via technology. Be brave! Join a chat or get started with #NT2T, a chat for New Teachers To Twitter.
4. Do you learn about technology from your students? Teachers and students must learn together, from each other. I have many students who know a great deal about technology.Just yesterday, I learned about the app, Musical.ly. It is an app that helps create music videos with cool effects. I learned about this app from my fifth graders at lunchtime. I am never surprised that they know so much more about technology than I do. I see it as my job to do some investigating to see if their new tech interest can help us in the classroom.
5. Do You Ask for Help? A digital learning educator knows that he or she should ask for help when stuck. I’ve googled, yahooed, and youtubed my way through many mishaps with technology. It’s the first thing I do. If it breaks or I don’t know how to use it, I google it. But when all my troubleshooting options are used up, I ask for help. Everyone knows that they don’t know everything and will have to ask for help. This is how we learn. Don’t be afraid to ask your tech support staff, colleagues, or students for help. A digital learning educator asks for help. Just never give up!
I’m sure that you answered YES to one or more questions above. This means that you are a digital learning educator. Digital Learning Day reminds us all that we can learn, grow, and improve our instructional practices with technology at our schools. I need to remind myself of this more often and keep moving forward. A leader with technology doesn’t need to be a computer science expert. He or she just needs to persevere, try new tools, and be willing to change as the technology changes. As technology continues to change rapidly, it is more important than ever that we act as digital learning educators in our school communities.
Dana Johansen spends her time teaching fifth grade in snowy Connecticut, reading on the couch with her yellow lab, and getting excited for the new season of House of Cards to return. Dana is the co-author of the new book, Flip Your Writing Workshop, due out in April. She believes in balanced blended learning and uses digital texts, flipped lessons, and all things Google to differentiate, be time efficient, and increase her students’ autonomy in the workshop. She has taught elementary and middle school for fourteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop.