Teaching/Technology: On Digital Learning Day

All, Education, Research, Teaching, Technology, Writing

digital.learningThe 2013 Digital Learning Day was Feb. 6. How did you celebrate? I have a confession to make. I had big plans once upon a time. I had visions of a huge collaborative community event that brought together teachers and students from Morehead State University (where I work) with teachers and students from the K-12 schools under the umbrella of Morehead Writing Project (which I direct). Then I looked at my calendar and my responsibilities and realized I might as well dream of personally ending world hunger. Not going to happen. So I wallowed in self-pity for a while and then I realized I did not need to do anything extraordinary to mark Digital Learning Day because for me every day is Digital Learning Day.


First and foremost, Digital Learning Day is about teaching and learning via technology–and both (all three?) are not only my work but also my passion. Last week I wrote a blog post (PLNs, Serendipity, and Learning) about how technology benefits my personal learning and development through my social networks (and social media). As I have also blogged about in the past, technology plays a huge role in the way I teach. I teach online (mostly) which makes it important for me to constantly evaluate the tools available to support my students and their work and their learning.

 

social.mediaPerhaps the most important technology I use is social media which is important to me as a tool to foster community and provide a back channel for communication with/among my students. I have used Twitter, Edmodo, and Google+ for teaching as well as my personal learning. This semester we are using a Google+ community and students have responded positively to getting to know each other in this more informal environment. This summer the Morehead Writing Project used Twitter to foster community as well as to record the events and lessons of the day using Storify. I have used social media with grad students and freshmen. My writing project teachers have used social media with students in elementary grades as well as middle and high school. I have blogged about this in the past (Community Building with Google+ and Twitter) but I’m overdue to do so again as I have a lot more experience with Google+ now.

 

However, I also use technology to foster the work that we do. I have collaborated in blogs and Google docs with my students to explore and share our learning – essentially replacing discussion by creating a working document of our thoughts, reflections, and research. I love using Google docs to facilitate online writing workshop as that process allows us to make comments (and hold conversations) either on the sidelines or within the text – and that work can happen in real time or asynchronously depending on circumstances and needs. I have blogged about this before (Teaching with Google Docs and Ringing in the New Year Pedagogically most recently) but I think I am overdue for an update as these posts don’t fully reflect my experience. Who knew this blog post would spawn so many ideas?

 

digitalpublicationFinally, technology plays a large role in the final products my students create. I teach writing and my students do turn in more traditional papers (although I’m not sure how true that would be if my institution’s composition program didn’t require it but I suppose that is another post – I have lots of questions about the traditional paper and its dubious benefits for student learning) although in classes such as professional writing that is entirely up to the student. I am much more interested in having my students explore, experiment, and create so I have students create projects which result in blogs, web sites, Squidoo lenses, Popplets, Storify stories, and many more types of products. I love teaching this way because not only is it a lot more fun for me and my students but it also allows us to have real conversations about the real decisions that real writers must face (such as which medium is best for this message and this audience). Oops, I think I just thought of another future blog post!

 

And so, apparently, I celebrated Digital Learning Day by taking you on this little walk down memory lane before returning to the work that I love – teaching and learning with technology. How did you celebrate Digital Learning Day? How do you use technology to foster your own learning and the learning of your students?

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