Digital Learning Going Viral

Are you tired of hearing about digital learning? Well, it’s only gaining momentum and changing the face of classrooms everywhere.

In fact, now there is a national day of awareness in February called “Digital Learning Day.” In its first year, the participation in Digital Learning Day was extremely high among educators, prompting a second year with even more ideas to broaden the awareness and impact of digital learning. On the special day’s website, it invites teachers to, “Join the wave of education champions who seek to engage students, celebrate and empower teachers, and create a healthy learning environment, personalized for every child.”

That, folks, is the way of the future. The next Digital Learning Day is February 6, 2013, so mark your calendar!

The world has gone digital. The truth is that we’ve all have developed a need to be somewhat entertained in order to give something our full attention — and retain the information.

Smart phones aren’t just helping us be more productive, they’re more fun — with apps that help us post funny photos and moments of satirical inspiration on our social networks, watch the latest viral video, and play games virtually with friends during our short breaks. We come home to our favorite TV shows recorded digitally for our convenient viewing, and we video chat with friends and family as the kids spend hours engaged in online, virtual-reality games.

Let’s face it – we are wired for the fast-paced entertainment-centered world of the 21st century. So why not discover more digital advantages, and engage students and teachers in more effective, creative and fun ways to teach and learn?

For example, a public school district in Washington state is capitalizing on the influence of “reality tv” in their professional development opportunities for teachers. According to a New York Times article, the district hired a professional producer to put together a library of short videos (around 5 minutes each, which is about the length of the average attention span), full of fast-moving edited clips and motivational music, featuring their best teachers demonstrating best practices.

Systems in Alabama have also jumped on the digital-learning train, like the community effort that transformed the Piedmont City schools into state-of-the-art digital learning classrooms.

Central Middle School in Coosa County, was featured in THE Journal (online) for their groundbreaking social networking platform, digital resource library, and a gateway for teachers to share and collaborate. Students are able to access their assignments online and take quizzes that provide immediate feedback for them.

More and more resources are flooding the Internet for classroom enhancement, like the Khan Academy, and Verizon’s “Thinkfinity” site connecting teachers to resources aligned with Common Core State Standards.

The Alabama State Department of Education hosts the Alabama Virtual Library, and recently purchased 109 online resources from Oxford University Press, according to the publishers. These resources are free for all public school educators, universities, technical schools and students to access.

Alabama will continue to see more rollouts of tech-savvy classroom products and practices, particularly as the state department’s Plan 2020 strategy is implemented. State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice is encouraging education leaders to utilize more digital technology and resources to improve the learning environment of Alabama’s public schools.

For example, to make progress on Alabama students’ college and career readiness, the use of ACCESS distance learning tool will be utilized more to bring Advanced Placement courses within reach of students who are in systems that do not currently offer these courses. Also, the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) gives teachers access to the curriculum, web resources, podcasts, and other professional development tools — all aligned with the new state standards. This online portal provides just-in-time support for teachers to implement the the latest curriculum successfully.

Stay tuned for more on the exciting, ongoing saga of digital learning.

Share what exciting digital learning advances you’ve seen, read about or would like to see. Your comments will be posted on the A+ Facebook page.