Hang with me. I am aware this may sound controversial. I'm also aware I am on my soapbox here. :)
I've been reading on Twitter and Facebook and in articles about the lead up to Digital Learning Day. There were all kinds of ideas about how to make it wonderful. There were links to sites with lesson plans guaranteed to be awesome. There were posts designed to get people to share what they were going to do for "Digital Learning Day". The more I read, the more bothered I became by the whole idea. Here's what I think.
1. Digital Learning "Day" encourages the idea that we should make a big deal out of something that should be the norm. Many schools are working toward incorporating technology into the way they teach students. By focusing on one day, we imply that we will not be trying to incorporate technology any of the other days. It also implies that the use of technology in the classroom has to be some spectacular show-stopping event. Digital learning is about teaching children using the best tools we have. Once upon a time that would have been using an overhead projector to show how math problems are worked. It could have been rolling in a cart of encyclopedias to do research. Teachers use the best tools they have to help children learn every day.
2. Having "Digital Learning Day" makes the day about the digital and not about the learning. Teaching using technology for the sake of using the technology is not what the goal should be. The goal should be on using whatever method is appropriate to teach what students need to learn. Digital learning is not about the digital. Shouldn't we focus on learning every day?
3. Playing up Digital Learning Day is going to discourage teachers, rather than encourage them, from incorporating technology into their lessons. It's just too much pressure. When a teacher tries anything for the first time, it may not work out. Every teacher I know has at least one story about a lesson that has blown up in their face. Teachers, like myself, who teach using digital content on a daily basis are no different. We learned that you can have the best lesson in the world and it can go wrong. If teachers are trying some great new digital something for this very special day, and it doesn't turn out as planned, where does that leave them? Making a shift to 21st century teaching takes longer than a day. There are little successes and huge failures along the way. Focus on the day to day; not on one day.
4. This is a big one…. If you can use technology in a lesson one day, why can't you do it every day? I don't understand the thought that you must plan and search and get ready to use technology for one special day. It should happen more than one day a year. I know all schools and classrooms don't have computers for every student, but there are ways to use technology on a regular basis. Most students have cell phones or small tablets. There are so many great apps and sites popping up every day that can be used in any classroom using devices brought by students. One teacher with one computer used effectively works too. There are so many great sites than can be used for practice or discussion. Bring technology in every day. Making such a big deal out of one day of digital learning makes it seem as if it is hard to teach using technology and that it takes weeks of preparation to figure out how to use technology in a lesson.
I understand the original idea was to get teachers to step outside their comfort zones and try something new. I respect that. Teachers sometimes need that push to better ourselves and not get stuck in a rut. We need to shift the focus to digital learning…. period. Digital learning every day because that's what's best for children.