What Have We Learned from Digital Learning Day

The tweets have slowed to a trickle.

The webcasts are all archived.

And the proclamations about the power of digital learning are a distant memory in our multi-tasked lives.

Digital Learning Day 2013 is in the books.

The post that follows is, really, in two distinct parts. First, I summarize my cynical vision of what DLDay was designed for as a front for the corporate education machine trying to sell software and computerized assessments.

Then, I summarize just a few of the thoughtful, engaging, and useful ideas from teachers. If you want to skip the sarcasm, then scroll down to “What Really Matters about DLDay.”

What Really Bothers Me about DLDay

Although, it’s important to note that Karen Cator — director of the Office of Educational Technology — would have us believe that “Every day should be Digital Learning Day.” In fact, ““Access to technology has become as important to learning as access to a library, yet teachers remain the critical link between students and the content.” (eSchool News, 2/8/13)


Any chance that teachers will remain the critical link, or — as I have posed before — is there another underlying agenda related to technology and its place in corporate education reform?

I am, at the very least, quite concerned about the implications of Digital Learning Day, because we are now left with Project 24, “an urgent call to action for systemic planning around the effective use of technology and digital learning to achieve the goal of “career and college readiness” for all students.” It’s terrible that no one has thought that technology could change education in powerful ways before, especially our government officials, in recent memory. Another unfunded initiative is bound to help.

And, if the call to action itself isn’t enough, there is now a law introduced to Congress to make sure that this happens. Thank goodness that H.R. 521: Transforming Education Through Technology Act will, among other things allow for:

  • purchasing hardware, software, or computer devices that improve learning
  • creating or upgrading to online assessments
  • improving technology readiness and online assessments

Ugh. I won’t elaborate much more here.

As a side note, how is it that George Miller funded his way into Congress? Mostly with the support of organized labor, including teachers unions whose members will likely have their jobs outsourced to automated curriculum and assessment “solutions.” Thanks for nothing.

All of this, sadly, simply reinforces the idea that corporate education reform is the new norm. Somehow, this is not very reassuring at all, especially knowing that students and teachers are more valuable as data points then they are as people. If this is the only lesson we take away from Digital Learning Day — and it certainly is one of the lessons — then it was a sad day to think about the future of digital learning.

What Really Matters about DLDay

On the other hand, there were truly innovative things that happened with and for teachers and students on DLDay. Teachers and students doing great work together, which we would believe that Karen Cator is all in favor of, right?

I’ve culled through many tweets, colleagues’ blogs, and other links that people have shared to come up with a list of alternatives to the corporate style of ed tech reform that has been proffered in the official news media. I don’t even pretend to believe that this list is complete, and anyone who has others to add to it would help me out a great deal by sharing them. I will keep updating this post as long as I need to.

So, here are a number of posts from and about teachers that demonstrate the true power of digital learning:

I’m sure that there are more out there, as this is what I came up with from scanning my own PLN and some basic searching on Twitter and Google. I wish I had more of these specific, creative ideas, but I need to call it a night. The individualized, creative, and contextual applications of technology in each of these above examples shows me the power and possibility of digital learning, each and every day.

Most of these examples were free, or at least very low cost. Few required massive infrastructure upgrades, integrated assessment systems, or other new software or hardware purchases. We have a great number of tools that we can use for digital writing and digital teaching. We simply need to respect the voices and professionalism of teachers so that they can use technology in these smart ways.

Let’s hope that we can bring more of these teachers — and their students — to the fore in our celebration of next year’s DLDay.

Update: February 9, 2013: Wording change for clarity.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.