Power Up

Technology has made nearly everything in modern life more efficient, accessible, richer, and faster, yet students are frequently asked to check their smart phones, laptops, and other devices at the door when they enter a classroom. That will change on Wednesday, February 5, when millions of students join tens of thousands of teachers, librarians, principals, and other educators across the nation for the third annual Digital Learning Day.

Started by the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2011, Digital Learning Day is a national celebration of innovation in education, centered on the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to learn in a robust digital environment that supports quality teaching every day.

Every child deserves a sound education foundation, and Digital Learning Day promotes the concept that technology joined with teachers is, and will continue to be, a key part of that foundation.

Digital Learning Day is not about technology for technology’s sake—simply slapping a netbook on top of a textbook will not move the education needle very much. Instead, Digital Learning Day is about combining innovative teaching and digital learning—any effective application of technology that raises student outcomes—in America’s schools to support teachers, improve learning, and help students achieve at their highest potential.

The Alliance recently profiled school districts that have shown bold leadership using technology effectively to improve learning for their students, including Cajon Valley Union School District in California, Quakertown Community School District in Pennsylvania, Dysart Unified School District in Arizona, and Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina. The time has come for many more districts to follow their lead, and many are taking the challenge.

No matter the approach, grade level, subject, geographic location, or teacher’s comfort using technology, Digital Learning Day will enable education professionals and policymakers, explore new strategies, make supporting proclamations, improve lessons, and create plans to use technology to improve teaching and learning.

Take the Challenge

There is a growing national consensus that commonsense, effective applications of digital learning in the classroom can provide students with a rich, personalized educational experience and dramatically improve student outcomes.

I urge you to add your voice to the emerging numbers of parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers who are embracing digital learning in the classroom. Digital Learning Day is a great opportunity to use the attention from national and state awareness campaigns to highlight local digital learning efforts to media, community leaders, and local policymakers.

Here are three meaningful ways to participate in Digital Learning Day:

  1. Add your voice in support of digital learning in schools at http://digitallearningday.org/join.
  2. Plan an event at your school and add it to our national map at http://digitallearningday.org/events/state-and-local-celebrations.
  3. Spread the word; invite friends, family, and colleagues to join the movement at http://digitallearningday.org/participate/spread-the-word.

The nation has a moral and economic imperative to ensure that every child graduates from high school with the skills necessary to succeed in college and today’s highly competitive job market. Let’s help teachers “power up” learning through effective application of technology.

Bob Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, Washington, D.C.alliance@all4ed.org

This article was published in AMLE Magazine, February 2014.