While it seems strange to limit digital learning to a day, designating a day to highlight the ways digital learning is being integrated into formal learning experiences is an important way to showcase that digital learning is here…and should be taking place in our schools to the advantage of all our students.
This year, the focus of Digital Learning Day is the issue of digital equity…or in the form of a hashtag, #techquity. A lot of people believe that digital equity is all about access to devices and internet…and of course, those are important issues, but #techquity is also about what students are asked to do and required to do with digital tools in their learning environments. All too often, digital tools become virtual replacements of low level exercises formerly confined to worksheets…or they become “wow” presentations of work students already did without the digital tools, with no real digital advantage. So the question becomes, what exactly constitutes digital equity? This is a question we have been exploring here in San Diego in an initiative we call Smart Tech Use for Equity where teachers are documenting a tech use in their classroom, focused on whether or not this practice actually makes a difference for students. Our work was featured in the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.
At a recent leadership meeting at the SDAWP (San Diego Area Writing Project) we opened up a discussion about how to best highlight the work SDAWP teachers are doing with digital learning in their classrooms. Our leadership group is a diverse cross-section of SDAWP teachers, representing levels from kindergarten to college and a variety of student demographics. The beauty of this group is that we bring diverse experiences and opinions to the group–and are willing to engage in conversations where we do not all agree. We discussed what we have done in the past…and what we might do in the future to share the work we know that SDAWP teachers are doing in their classrooms.
For some years now at the SDAWP we have had an SDAWP Twitter Fellow of the Week. Modeled after Sweden’s citizen Twitter campaign, SDAWP teachers share a glimpse of their teaching and their lives in San Diego. This work has allowed us to showcase the wonderful teaching and learning that takes place in our classrooms and has put us in touch with other teachers, educators, authors, and researchers from all over the country (and perhaps the world). But…it’s on Twitter and some folks are simply resistant to Twitter, so there are many educators this effort doesn’t reach.
The SDAWP also has a Facebook page. And because of the SDAWP Facebook page, many SDAWP teachers use their personal Facebook pages to connect to one another and share what is going on in their classrooms. But, our “official” SDAWP Facebook page doesn’t reflect this. Up to this point it has been used to share mostly external resources and pertinent information for those interested in the teaching of writing. Occasionally, we have opportunities to celebrate the teaching of our SDAWP fellows…but even though we have a team of administrators, teachers can only post prominently on the SDAWP page if they post as an administrator. So, why not open this opportunity up to more SDAWP teachers?
So, for Digital Learning Day 2016 we launch the SDAWP Facebook Fellow of the Week. Each week a different SDAWP teacher will post something going on in her/his classroom–celebrating the students they work with and their learning efforts. Some of the work will be specifically digital and some will not, but all will show ways SDAWP teachers strive to support the learners in their classrooms, honoring their lives and experiences in the process.
We hope to democratize our SDAWP Facebook page as a different teacher each week takes on the role of administrator and adds their own content to the page. Of course, careful attention will be paid to student privacy…a role that teachers have become increasingly aware of in this world of digital media, in our schools, and in our lives. We also hope that this effort will show the many ways digital equity is practiced in classrooms…and expose the inequities (many beyond the the control of classroom teachers) that still need our attention and effort.
How will you mark Digital Learning Day?