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Digital Learning Day

Written by Sharon Washington
January 27, 2012

Writing in a digital environment is something that students today do not even think twice about … from texting to tweeting to blogging and posting status updates … the important thing for me is that they are writing. While we are seeing a difference in the way youth write today, I am also seeing how teachers are embracing digital learning to help foster creativity in ways we have not seen before. And that is why the National Writing Project is pleased to be a part of the first-ever Digital Learning Day next Wednesday, Feb. 1.

We know that digital learning happens every day and we applaud the Alliance for Excellent Education and all our other partners involved in this awareness-building campaign, which culminates with a day of activities on Feb. 1. For our part, we plan to bolster the digital learning momentum as we strive to make sure every student is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.

Our network of teachers from across the nation will be engaging in activities from blogging about their practice at the Digital Is website to participating in an NWP Radio broadcast, Digital Writing Matters. And many will be tweeting to the hashtags #dlday and #whatimake as they highlight their digital teaching and the digital work of their students.

I’ll also be tuning into the Figment website. Figment, along with the New York Times Learning Network and Edutopia, have joined us in celebrating youth writing online – both in school and after school – as part of Digital Learning Day. We’ll be encouraging young writers at Figment to describe the importance of online publishing spaces that provide a social network of collaborators, responders and readers. The New York Times Learning Network, meanwhile, will publish pieces about education and technology from its vast archives and also encourage teachers to “try one new thing.”

I have seen for myself just how important and influential technology tools can be in the classroom, from helping English learners build language fluency to fostering collaborative learning as teams of students create public service videos.

Teachers are preparing students for a different world, a world that includes ever-changing technologies. You can see how National Writing Project teachers are helping to equip their students with ways technology can further their learning experience in a report we developed with the College Board — Teachers Are the Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age. This report highlights teachers’ innovative use of digital tools for writing and learning.

It’s imperative that educators receive effective, teacher-led professional development so that they understand how best to use digital tools in their classrooms, both for themselves as learners and for their students. The National Writing Project has several digital writing initiatives for teachers in place. As I mentioned earlier, the website Digital Is  collects ideas, reflections, and stories about what it means to teach writing in our digital, interconnected world. We also recently published Because Digital Writing Matters, which examines what teachers, administrators, and parents can do to help schools meet the challenges of digital writing and to equip students with the technology-related communication skills they need to thrive in our information-rich, high-speed, high-tech culture. And of course our network of local sites continues to work in schools and with local agencies to provide rich learning opportunities when it comes to digital pedagogy and practice.

I am calling on you to come up with a unique and fun way to participate in the inaugural national Digital Learning Day on February 1, 2012. You will be in good company as a wide range of states, organizations, and corporate partners have all signed on to be a part of this effort including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

We know that this effort is more than just a one day event, so help us make digital learning and writing part of everyday learning.

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