October 2, 2014

Give Lessons a Byte on Digital Learning Day

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8th graders at Charlotte Country Day Middle School, NC, work on Movie Maker projects in Latin class.

Looking to add some virtual pizazz to your school’s educational canon? Join the nation’s many school librarians and educators who are already planning to dive into projects, programs, and day-long activities tomorrow in celebration of the second annual Digital Learning Day. The nationwide event aims to promote the use of technology in classroom learning.

Over at New Canaan High School, CT, library department chair Michelle Luhtala is asking students and faculty to download an eBook to their mobile devices, and setting up a support desk to help to anyone who needs it.

And at Murray Hill Middle School in Laurel, MD, Gwyneth Jones is tying Digital Learning Day into the school’s celebration of National History Day with custom QR codes on history displays throughout the library with the phrase: “I DARE you to Scan this Code!” Digitally-savvy history buffs will be sent to an infographic on how to get the most out of the Library of Congress.

Virtual tools are quickly being adopted in schools across the country, along with digital learning strategies and devices. Students often gravitate easily to these objects from laptops to tablets, e-readers to smartphones, plus they tend to be savvy users of online databases and web-based learning apps. But marrying these tools effectively into student learning—linking the fun to the educational element—is where many librarians and educators are focused today.

Sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day’s web site offers a plethora of tips on ways teachers and librarians can stitch some virtual know-how into lessons, plus there are toolkits linked to specific courses offering educators outlines for classroom projects.

Digital Learning Day also happens to coincide with a project students are working on at Charlotte Country Day Middle School, NC—creating five-minute films about a topic in Ancient Roman culture. The kids are editing the pieces on Windows Movie Maker, and faculty will be awarding film prizes like the Oscars, but aptly called “the Caesars.”

Megan Fink, the middle school librarian/advisor, believes the annual event can highlight how librarians are using technology in the classrooms in collaboration with teachers.

“We hear about the need for better technology in schools, but we don’t always hear how technology is being incorporated or else we focus on the online databases and online encyclopedias,” she says. “These are helpful resources to today’s students and can be a vehicle to let them be creative, which is our hope in film festival project.”

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Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business and technology, and is the recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism. She can be found at www.laurenbarack.com.

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