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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Taking the Digital Out for Digital Learning Day

You see it in their faces first. Borderline Walking Dead extras staring blankly at a screen overcome by a mixture of exhaustion and frustration. They came to learn about digital teaching and learning. They wanted to use the latest digital texts and tools enhance their pedagogical goals. Yet they are lost.

Tumbling in a world of pixels grasping for the comfort of print.

And I am okay with that. You see at many professional development seminars I run the ultimate goal is for participants to leave with a curricular activity that utilizes digital teaching and learning. I, usually with my colleague +Ian O'Byrne, lead participants through our framework of online research and media skills.

Then after providing sessions about online collaborative inquiry, online content construction  and online collaborative inquiry participants are introduced to a variety of digital text and tools. Finally we conclude with digital workshop time to allow participants to develop their own ideas.

Granted this usually happens over a series of days, but as last day approaches I will inevitably stumble across a teacher that does not know where to begin. They were overwhelmed by the digital texts and tools, amazed by the possibilities, and still lost.

So I walk over and turn off their computer. They have print on the brain and that is okay.

Pre-writing in a pixel age is no different than prewriting in print age. Writer's block is still a lack of strategies for getting started. People need to recognize this. So when I see a student or teacher struggling to get started I turn of the machine an turn to my most potent tool the writing conference.

I ask them to think about their goal for the week. I ask them to consider their pedagogical outcomes they would like to enhance. Then I break out paper. We storyboard their videos or websites. We remove the digital from digital learning for awhile.

Then suddenly all is right for the world. Students and teachers begin to see the navigational links they require. They draft copy for their projects, and they think about images.

So digital learning day is upon us do not be afraid to take out the digital in learning for just a little while.

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