Digital Learning Day…..one more time

Nov 30, 2011 by

Cheryl S. Williams – Recently I was looking through old paper files in the Learning First Alliance (LFA) office and happened upon a successful grant application that LFA had received some years ago to gather, record, and disseminate the knowledge, skills, and approaches successful school districts use to ensure their students achieve to their highest abilities.  The project resulted in a publication called Beyond Islands of Excellence that, indeed did chronicle what goes into an effective public school system and profiled districts whose students had benefited from their wise, effective leadership.   I was struck by how much the scope of work described in the successful grant application articulated the concepts and big ideas that LFA organizations and their leaders still work diligently to implement today.

I was also reminded that we’ve known the answers and approaches that drive innovation and school success for some time when I attended a core partner meeting earlier this month for Digital Learning Day at the Alliance for Excellent Education (www.all4ed.org).    Digital Learning Day (DLD) is planned for February 1, 2012, and invites everyone who cares about effective K-12 public schooling to celebrate the bold, innovative educators who are embedding digital resources into their teaching and learning activities on a daily basis.  DLD aims to launch, with a series of Town Hall Meetings, a yearlong push to incorporate new technologies and the resources they support into teaching and learning activities across the nation.  This high-profile, ambitious project is one I support personally and LFA supports corporately, which is why we signed on as a core partner.

Having said this, I’m still mystified as to why it’s so difficult for us, both professional educators and interested community members and parents, to understand, visualize and support the inclusion of modern digital technologies and resources into schools.  Since the late 1980’s my career in education has focused on the appropriate and effective use of new and emerging technologies in the learning environment.  My colleagues and I in the education technology arena acknowledge that we’ve been great at communicating about innovative practices, dynamic teachers, forward-thinking administrators, and technology-rich schools and districts to each other and those who have been concentrating on this aspect of schooling for some time.  And, while we support Digital Learning Day and other such efforts to help a wider audience understand the work we’ve been immersed in for years, it is my fervent hope that this “launch” will be the last and that what we now plan to showcase, and one more time, explain will become so routine in the K-12 teaching and learning environment, a special day and/or year will no longer be necessary.

About the Author

Cheryl Scott Williams is a nationally recognized leader in education reform and improvement with extensive experience leading nonprofit boards and building successful board/staff relationships.

Prior to coming to the Learning First Alliance, she served as a senior consultant at APQC. She was previously Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Teachscape, a San Francisco based company that designs and delivers online, job-embedded professional development for teachers and principals. In addition, she has served as Vice President, Education at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and she spent 14 years directing the Education Technology Program at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) before joining CPB.

Williams is a past president of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), past board chair of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), and current board member of the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET). She began her career in education as an English Language Arts teacher in Montgomery County, MD, and Fairfax County, VA. She holds a BA and MA in English and Secondary Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

About The Learning First Alliance

The Learning First Alliance is a partnership of 16 leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools. Alliance members include: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators, American Association of School Personnel Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American School Counselor Association, Association for Middle Level Education (formerly National Middle School Association), International Society for Technology in Education, Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council), National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, National School Public Relations Association, National PTA, National School Boards Association and Phi Delta Kappa International. The Alliance maintains www.learningfirst.org, a website that features what’s working in public schools and districts across the country.

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