Opinion
School & District Management Opinion

Ten Tough Questions for Digital Learning Day

By Justin Reich — February 01, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

I’m looking ahead this week to Digital Learning Day on February 6th. It’s a day supported by a diverse set of educators and institutional partners, designed to celebrate the possibilities of digital technologies and learning.

It should also, I think, be a day for asking tough questions and reflecting about our limited progress in using technology to enrich schooling. The Web is full of truly extraordinary exemplar projects demonstrating powerful applications of technology in learning settings, where students collaborate across cultures, solve meaningful problems, and rehearse for a networked world. But as extraordinary as the exemplars are, in most cases teachers use technology to extend existing practices, and the limited cases where technology fosters innovation disproportionately benefit affluent students.

So in the spirit of exciting potential and disappointing progress, I offer some questions for us to reflect on:

For Educators

1) Do the most exciting technology-rich learning opportunities in your school go to the most-advantaged students in Honors or AP classes?
2) Is your school using technology to gain efficiencies in old practices, or to do things that are truly different?
3) Does your school teach students to be afraid of making bad decisions on the Internet? Or do you teach students how to create a digital footprint to be proud of?
4) Do rubrics for online projects evaluate students’ ability to demonstrate their understanding, or do they measure compliance concerning criteria like length, number of posts, number of pages, etc.?
5) To what extent is your school measuring the impact of your technology investments? Could you prove to your stakeholders (parents, school boards, trustees) that the vast sums invested in technology are making a difference in student learning?
6) Does your school have a coherent vision that defines high quality learning? Is your technology plan specifically designed to serve that vision?
7) How does your school prepare students for a world where the vast majority of learning takes place outside of school?

Bonus Questions for Educational Researchers

1) Does your research design account for the fact that most new innovations in education technology either have no meaningful impact on teacher practice or disproportionately benefit the affluent?
2) Do your studies focus on “hot-house” cases where educators have access to special technologies, resources, or expertise, or are you studying how typical technologies are used in typical settings?
3) Does your research agenda have plans for translating research findings into meaningful, actionable advice for practitioners? Do you publish in places and formats where educators can make use of your insights?

These are hard questions. This is a hard field. It’s hard to look back over the last four decades and find ways that education technology has made deep, lasting changes on schooling. It’s also hard to imagine a future where we don’t depend upon emerging technologies to shape learning across our lifetimes.

So let’s celebrate our efforts, but let’s not believe that technology is magic. If it is magic, it’s the David-Blaine-standing-on-a-pole-while-frozen-in-ice kind. The hard kind.

We need a pep talk. I’ll let Kid President do it. Happy Digital Learning Day.

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my papers, presentations and so forth, visit EdTechResearcher.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in EdTech Researcher are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management 10 Ways to Tackle Education's Urgent Challenges
As the school year gets underway, we ask hard questions about education’s biggest challenges and offer some solutions.
2 min read
Conceptual Image of schools preparing for the pandemic
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educator Stress, Anti-Racism, and Pandemic Response: How You're Feeling
A new nationally representative survey offers key takeaways from teachers, principals, and district leaders.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read
2021 BI COVER no text DATA crop
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Download 8 Tips for Building a Digital Learning Plan That Conquers Chaos
Craft flexible strategies, encourage experimentation with new instructional models, and regularly solicit feedback.
1 min read
onsr edtech tips
Getty