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What Is Digital Learning Day 2016

DLD logoIn 1999, I sat eagerly in front of a computer, for the first time, waiting to get on the internet with the glorious sound of AOL dialup ringing in my ear. It was unfathomable to think that we could actually not only read real-time news but connect with people from around the world. I remember thinking that my own children would never grow up without access to information or the ability to learn what and when they wanted, even when they did not have that same access in school.

It is 2016 and though we have made progress as digital learners and creators, the reality is that there are students that have less access than I did in my days as a dial-up subscriber. There are  still schools that are trying to make the most of not enough.

Even as the students in my own school district attend classrooms of limited technology, I am exceptionally hopeful that as we share and make our challenges and solutions known, we each hold the keys to bridging the gaps that inequities cause.

In a matter of weeks, I will serve as the emcee for the fifth year of Digital Learning Day. Digital Learning Day was created as a way to spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality learning opportunities no matter where they live. We hope to inspire a new wave of ideas that can help local decision makers better serve the learning needs of their communities for both students and teachers.

With a mix of in-studio and remote guests, we will highlight some of the most dynamic programs happening in schools across the country with a specific focus this year on digital equity. Even as schools and communities struggle, the creative bravery of many school district leaders and teachers have turned mountains into molehills, igniting the pathway of opportunity for their students for years to come. If you have not done so already, please click here to sign up for Digital Learning Day Live to be notified the moment that the event starts.

In addition to Digital Learning Day Live, teachers, schools, and organizations are encouraged to celebrate digital learning by engaging in innovative experiences that day. Please make sure to log your event on the Digital Learning Day site. When your event is registered, your classroom or school activities will be visible via an interactive map showcasing celebrations from coast to coast. In the spirit of sharing, and maybe winning an Apple watch, teachers can submit innovative ideas to be captured and shared through a partnership with Participate Learning, a free collection and collaboration platform that lets teachers quickly find, collect, and share digital resources.  

When Digital Learning Day comes to a close, my hope is that what people take away isn’t just a hashtag but a push to consider what we believe about learning and a drive to make sure that the opportunity to create and learn with accessible technology isn’t an afterthought but a right for every student and teacher, regardless of zip code.

Ed Note- Join Rafranz, Doug Robertson, Jon Corippo, Rick Rubino, and Mike McCormick 1/31 at 6pst under the #cuerockstar hashtag for a chat about DLDay.

rafranz_picRafranz is a Google Certified Innovator, Microsoft Innovative Education Expert, two time Bammy Award finalist, author of  The Missing Voices in EdTech, and Executive Director of Professional and Digital Learning for Lufkin Independent School District. Follow her on twitter @rafranzdavis

4 Ways I Don’t Teach the Tech

Tools Icon ConceptThe technology teacher doesn’t teach the tech tools?

Yes and no. My goal is that my students leave my class at the end of the year knowing how to communicate, collaborate, critically think, and be creative. Of course we use technology to do that, but because I want students to learn the 4 Cs, those are what I teach to. We rarely learn how to use a tech tool for the sake of learning a tech tool. Here’s how I introduce tools without teaching them directly.

  1. Time to Explore

I want my students to understand learning objectives like engaging an audience in a screencast or podcast, or how visually representing information can inform, entertain, or persuade. My goal is not that they know how to use Quicktime or Piktochart, that is the byproduct. Ultimately, I want my students to use the tool that best fits their purpose. This is why I suggest tools to use and let them choose the one that works for them. Then I give them time before diving into the task to explore and play with the tool they’ve chosen, with the chance to change the tool if they determine the wrong choice was made.

  1. Embedded Tutorials in the Instructions

With so many YouTube tutorials out there I can direct my students to them, leaving me more time to teach and support deeper learning objectives. Students can revisit these tutorials as many times as they like and learn the tool as they complete their tasks.

  1. Student Created Tutorials

These tutorials come in handy when students are working on a variety of activities. When they need to know how to embed a Google Slides Presentation into a Weebly site, let’s say, they can go to the shared Weebly Tutorials Folder to see if there is a tutorial that will help them with their task. Students learn how to use aspects of the tool when they need to, in a more authentic way, increasing the likelihood they will remember how to use the tool again in the future. Students use Quicktime or Snagit to create tutorials.

  1. Learning Experiences Designed with Content and Pedagogy in Mind First, Not the Tech Tool

When designing learning objectives, lessons, units, etc., I first figure out my content. Then I think about the best ways to deliver and assess the content, and finally, decide if and how technology can help with the delivery and assessment. This way tech tools do not drive what we do, but enhance what we create.

Sanchez 3

After infusing technology into many K-8 subjects in the past 16 years, Trisha Sanchez is now a 7th/8th grade Technology Teacher. She is always learning with her students and peers and believes in the power of sharing. Follow her on twitter @techishtrish or learnreflectlead.blogspot.com.


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