Founded by the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2012, Digital Learning Day is happening in schools across the nation today – Wednesday, February 17th. In the past decade, we have seen a great increase in the amount of educational technology used in schools. Digital learning extends beyond just using technology and can be defined as an instructional practice that increases student achievement, engagement, and their overall learning experience. While we have pockets of innovation in schools all over the nation, the intent behind Digital Learning Day is to provide equitable access to great 21st Century lessons for ALL learners. Here are a few tips and tricks from educators all over the country on how to make digital learning day a success in your classroom or school.
Tip #1: Encourage Taking Risks
Dr. Marc Natanagara and Tiffany Lucey are part of the central office leadership team in the Toms River School District. In order support the students and teachers on Digital Learning Day, the central office administration shared the link to a planning document in Google Drive with staff members as well as a link to a digital learning day invitation template. Lucey created this flyer that she distributed to her 19 different principals. The template allows classroom teachers doing classroom events to invite other classes in the school to join them, fostering a sense of collaboration.
Says Lucey: “This is a great opportunity to highlight some great things happening in your district, so invite your parents and community members to participate.”
Tip #2: Emphasize Student Voice
In Old Orchard Beach Maine, 4th Grade Teacher, Billy Corcoran (@MisterCMaine) uses Digital Learning Day as an opportunity to emphasize student voice as his students have a Live Google Hangout with young learners from all over the country. The Google Hangout includes elementary classrooms from Cape Elizabeth, Maine and Auburn, Maine as well as states in different parts of the country such as Mississippi. The student-led chat was framed with essential questions like: what does digital learning look like in your school, how has digital learning impacted your learning, and how can we create a culture of connected digital learners worldwide? Pretty sophisticated topics for young learners.
Corcoran has this to say about Digital Learning Day: “technology is a tool that allows my students’ voices to be heard by a worldwide audience. When they make a personal connection to the kids on the other end of the video, it doesn’t take too much convincing for them to produce their best work.”
Tip #3 Take The Future Ready Pledge
The Alliance of Education recommends that schools take the Future Ready Pledge on Digital Learning Day. Developed by the Department of Education in October of 2014, The Future Ready Pledge requires that District Level leadership work with parents, children, administrators, and teachers to help transition their schools to a model of personalized 21st Century learning. If you are a superintendent reading this article, join over 2, 000 superintendents across the US and take this pledge on February 17th.
This map shows the geo-location of leaders all over the country who are committed to Digital Learning Day and technology to support learning all year long.
Tip #4 Collaborate Using Google Hangouts, Mystery Skypes, or Video as a Storytelling Tool
The Toms River School District and A. Harry Moore School of New Jersey City University collaborate through the New Jersey Department of Innovation all year long. In preparation for the Official Digital Learning Day, teachers from both schools will have a joint professional development session during a common planning time. For Digital Learning Day, one group of collaborative partners will engage in Mystery Skypes with three different pairs of classes. A Mystery Skype is a 45-60 minute critical thinking challenge that requires one class to guess the geo-location of the other school.
Teachers Wendy Thompson and Tara Smith will write a 21st Century story together with their classes using Sphero the Robot in real time on either side of a Google Hangout. Also, A. Harry Moore is launching its building-wide iBeacon exhibit on Digital Learning Day. As part of the collaboration, students from Toms River are making a YouTube video articulating what they like about their 21st Century collaborative partnership with A. Harry Moore. This content will be part of the building wide iBeacon Launch that takes place on Wednesday, February 17th.
Tip #5 Celebrate the Past, Present, and Future of Your Community
Part of what is special about digital learning day is using innovative technology to provide a sense of historical context. For the past year A. Harry Moore students and faculty members and NJCU Educational Technology Doctoral Candidates have worked on an iBeacon project celebrating the 85 year history of their school as a Jersey City landmark. On Digital Learning Day, they have planned an official ribbon cutting ceremony for their project and a five floor digital scavenger hunt. Thanks to pingable geo-location iBeacon technology, guests at this ceremony will have access on their phones and iPads to eight decades worth of primary historical documents, photos, and videos with the Locly app. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop will be attendance for this special celebration of student agency.
This view inside the Locly iBeacon app shows content that students have created to compare and contrast different landmarks in their school between the 20th and 21st century. Use Digital Learning Day to celebrate the triumphs in your school by taking a look back and make a plan for moving forward.
Boost Your Digital Learning Skills This Summer!
Choose from 18 different workshop topics in 7 cities across the country. Learn more at ettsummer.org.
Featured image via Flickr