Digital Learning Day

An important requirement of the Common Core State Standards is that students are able to ‘utilize technology and digital media strategically’.  So kudos to the Alliance for Excellent Education for sponsoring Digital Learning Day:

… a year-long campaign to celebrate bold, creative innovative teachers in classrooms across this nation. These front-line innovators are already embedding digital learning into new instructional practices to ensure that every student leaves the classroom ready for college, career and life success.  We ask you to join with us, as with them, as we launch an unprecedented, collaborative effort to expand innovation into every city, town, school and classroom in America!

 The first national Digital Learning Day is Wednesday, February 1, 2012.  Please join the Alliance and our more than 20 nationally recognized core education partners as we work together to rally support and action to enable digital learning everywhere.

Some classrooms are already focusing their efforts on integrating digital media and technology into instructional practice.  This school in Kentucky, for example, has found a way to ensure that their educators are keeping up with the latest trends in technology and are able to utilize digital resources in their classroom:

What is the purpose of giving each teacher a laptop? As is the case for many other jobs, employees need to be able to work anywhere, including from home. The teachers at Eminence need to be given the opportunity to create awesome lessons using the best technology. In order for them to prepare students to utilize technology, they must become proficient with it first. The ultimate goal is to equip each student with 21st Century skills and to prepare them for their future, be that college or the workforce. It takes a village (a school district) to raise a child, and the Eminence administration gave each teacher another tool to assist in that process.

We applaud the Alliance for drawing attention to the importance of 21st century skills and finding a way to stress the importance of helping educators introduce digital skills into the classroom.

Digital Promise: Math for Every Student

Tip of the hat to Scholastic’s Math Hub for posting this piece on the state of technology in math education.  Though many math educators report still relying on a basal textbook, many more are employing a variety of digital resources to help reach struggling math students:

On average, math teachers reported spending more than one full class period per week using digital tools or content, and many spent significantly more time utilizing technology. Specifically, among teachers who report using digital content or tools during more then 26% of class time (high digital use), the highest percentages are remedial math teachers and grades 6-8 math teachers. The most commonly used digital tool is interactive whiteboards. Teachers considered interactive whiteboards to be the most important supplemental material in addition to textbooks. This demand for whiteboards is a change from 2008 when interactive whiteboards were not even part of the survey. Math teachers and educators value the “faster reporting” and “detailed student/class information” generated by computer-based programs, features that traditional textbooks and workbooks cannot provide.

What many math educators have discovered is that moving from whole-class instruction to differentiating for struggling students requires going beyond the textbook to solutions that harness technology to adapt and respond to a student’s learning trajectory.  Technology of that sort can take multiple forms, but some important features include the ability to individualize for a student’s needs, provide supplemental resources, and multiple explanations for math skills and concepts.  As many educators now understand, one size does not fit all when it comes to math instruction; and ensuring that students graduate ready for the mathematical demands of the post-secondary world entails matching student math ability to the level of the lesson. 

At MetaMetrics, we’ve attempted to harness technology to supplement and strengthen student math ability through Math at Home.  Math at Home serves as a portal for matching students to targeted math resources across a variety of mediums.  Because each student has a different preferred learning modality, Math at Home offers online resources, video tutorials, skill practice sites, literature guides, games, and hand’s-on activities – a wide variety of resources to keep students engaged in math activity.  But Math at Home is more than a mere portal.  There are plenty of activity portals widely available.  What distinguishes Math at Home from other student portals is the Quantile Framework.  Math at Home uses the student’s Quantile measure to establish the student’s math level.  The list of available resources differs for each student and is based on their Quantile measure, or math level.  Additionally, Math at Home utilizes a large database of textbooks to match students with resources of their choice based on their current textbook lesson, but at their own math level.  If you haven’t already tried it, be sure to take a look.

Online Learning Registry: Digital Resources for All

This summer, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced that the federal government would be creating an Online Learning Registry to house digital education resources from around the country.  That’s good news.  But it’s nothing new.  Apple created a K-12 iTunes U destination in 2008 to accomplish the same thing.  State educational agencies in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all contributed along with several museums and other educational organizations.  Content includes free lectures, lab demos, and even campus tour videos.

More recently, Texas has announced the creation of a Texas Education iTunes U platform that offers free downloads of professional development materials.

Apple has long been considered a thought leader in applying technology in the service of education.  It’s good to see the Feds take note; and we applaud Secretary Duncan for his vision.  Be sure to check it out.  You may even want to contribute something of your own.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.