Editor's note: This article was originally published in the Dexter Squall. Articles published in the Squall are included on Patch.com weekly as part of a cooperative study program.
By Murphy Hansen
Dexter Squall Staff Writer
Digital Learning Day, a nationwide celebration of digital media and technology that engages students and provides them with a rich, and personalized educational experience, took place at on Feb. 1.
On Digital Learning Day, students and teachers are encouraged to explore new ways of using technology in the classroom and explore how digital tools may help improve students' learning experience.
DHS Librarian Linda Livingstone made it a priority to get the word out about Digital Learning Day. As the school’s media specialist, she sent out an email inviting all staff to join in on the festivities.
“I saw it as a way to kick-off a teacher training initiative that I started with a grant from the Educational Foundation of Dexter,” Livingstone said.
Livingstone said Digital Learning Day should not only help students in acquiring new ways of learning through using technology, but it should also help teachers.
“Training teachers for the 21st century is a chance for teachers to find out about online learning ... and connect them to cool online tools," Livingstone said.
Despite this push for digital learning, Livingstone said the idea of online learning has pros and cons.
“Some believe it means that you put a computer in front of a student and they are on their own,” she said. “Others believe it means that teachers will no longer have a job; that they’ll be replaced by computers. But I have a different idea. I believe that digital learning is an important piece of our world.
"In 2012 we know more about how people learn than we have ever known. We now understand that the brain works in ways we didn’t know about before.”
She also said that digital learning can help schools meet the academic needs of all students.
“Some people learn better with resources available to them 24/7,” Livingstone said. “If the needed information is available online, then the student can go back to it for review as often as necessary. Educators need to pull together as many tools, teaching strategies and delivery systems as we can get our hands on to make sure that our students walk away from high school with the capability to think, create and communicate with all kinds of people and in all kinds of situations. Digital learning helps make this possible.”
Sometimes, though, teachers resist using technology in the classroom. Livingstone said the three main reasons teachers may not want to use technology in their classrooms are anxiety, not have enough time or inadequate training.
“We want to do a good job everyday,” she said. It’s hard to make mistakes especially in front of our students. Teachers have a life beyond the school day. Every building has really powerful technology tools, but teachers haven’t learned how to use them. Even our tech department is still trying to learn about the tools.”
As for the library, Livingstone said she is adding more digital learning tools every day such as ebooks, databases and maybe even some Kindles or iPads.
“Technology isn’t going to go away,” she said. “We need to learn to use it wisely. We need to learn how to use it to make the best possible learning environment for our students. We need to stretch to find effective tools for delivering our curriculum.”