Living in a Digital World

D = Digital!
As I continue the ABCs for my #ReflectiveTeacher journey, I had so many "D" words that it was hard to decide on the topic for today's post. The final toss-up was between differentiation and digital "something," but because my new job is all about technology, and I'm working to reflect on that, I went with digital. (I already posted quite a bit about differentiation, and I know there will be a way to include that again, too.)

In my new job, one of my favorite (so far) sessions we provide is called a Digital Fluency Academy. I cannot take credit for this wonderful concept, but I was able to help update the session, so I feel my fingerprints are on today's version. The Academy is a 4-day offering where we introduce participants to the ISTE student standards, we help them understand the idea of what seamless tech integration really looks like, and we help them realize how they can accomplish tech integration in their own classroom or school.

I feel we're about to reach a key threshold in education, which is why I loved the image I found for today's post. As more teachers and students gain access to devices, I often see the deer-in-the-headlights look of "Now what?" There are demands from admin/district/community to jump in to use the devices, but some teachers receive little or no training on the why, how, and what of the device. (I feel that's precisely the purpose of my new job!)

In our Digital Fluency Academy, we first ask the participants to create a definition of digital fluency by describing differences between being digitally literate and digitally fluent. One participant used the analogy of learning a new language and being literate vs. being fluent in Spanish, which I thought was a great comparison.

Next, we direct the educators to this fabulous sketchnote and article by Tim Clark and the BYOT Network.  At this point, we hear a lot of "oops!" and "a-ha!" as some people realize they are working on the digitized side of the chart. It reminds me of when I received technology "credit" on my teacher evaluation for using the overhead and calculators. :)

In our Academy, one of our first slides is "Pedagogy first, then technology," which often brings a sigh of relief. As we go through the ISTE standards, we get to model creativity and collaboration, and we find ways to help others develop information literacy. We challenge the participants to embed digital citizenship in all aspects of their classrooms. Actually, my work partner insists we now use the phrase "Citizenship in the digital age," which I feel is more appropriate. (We also use "Learning in the digital age," rather than "21st-century learning.")

We sometimes overwhelm the participants with information, resources, and tools, but we also provide the most valuable resource--time--for educators to think, process, and share what they've learned.

I am thrilled that more teachers and students have access to devices, and that we now see more examples of how the technology can help us learn and grow...but I also need to remember to take it slow, to realize that we're all in different places on the journey, and we all have different needs, entry points, and experiences as learners. (Oh, there we go: I did get to include my why for differentiation in this post! "We all have different entry points into the learning.")

Always learning.