Skip to content

How not to celebrate Digital Learning Day

It’s Digital Learning Day.


Isn’t celebrating Digital Learning Day a bit like observing Black History Month?

I mean, shouldn’t we be teaching teaching black history (and women’s history and Latino history and Asian American history and dead white guy history and Native American history and . . . well, history history) all year long? I  can certainly understand the sentiment – for far too long, it was just Dead White Guy History.

Black History Month was a way to encourage teachers and kids to learn more about a part of who we are that was often pushed to the margins. The hope was that these critical pieces of US history would be incorporated throughout the instructional year. The problem? Too many social studies teachers still use February to have kids memorize random black history facts and call it good.

I get the same sense about Digital Learning Day. Not that there is anything wrong with the idea of a Digital Learning Day – the folks over there seem very concerned about best practice and argue that digital tools should be embedded into instruction as part of everyday practice.

But . . .

We know that doesn’t always happen. To often, technology and digital tools are used in places and times that don’t improve learning. We buy the latest “shiny” gadgets that everyone else is buying and expect them to help our kids learn because, well . . . they’re shiny. We love our iPads. We think we need to implement BYOD programs, right now. We don’t always think these things through very well.

So today, five ways for how to not celebrate Digital Learning Day:

1. You should convert your lecture notes and handouts to PDFs so your kids can read them on a computer in the lab down the hall. Cause we know when a kid reads your notes on an electronic screen in digital format rather than paper, she has a better chance of retaining that information. I think it has something to do with the electricity the screen emits – goes straight into their brain.

2. Post your test online but have students show their work on paper to be turned into the basket on your desk. Isn’t this how most businesses make lots of money?

3. Install as many flash card apps onto students’ mobile devices as possible. They can review your content using the same methods you’ve always used but now they can do it on the bus ride home. Encourage them to watch talking head math review videos using their YouTube app – because an ineffective face-to-face lecture is magically transformed into an engaging learning activity when viewed online.

4. Install strict filtering and blocking software limiting internet access to both teachers and students, ensuring that teachers have to ask (using a paper form submitted to the central office) two weeks in advance for an instructional web site to be unblocked. Of course, this also means that any social media or networking tools are blocked for students.

5. Because your district spent so much money on technology, make sure that every teaching and learning activity uses technology. Make the learning fit the technology – because we know digital tools should be the focus of every lesson and that all those old, brain-based best practices don’t work anymore.


We should be teaching black history (and women’s history and Latino history and dead white guy history and Native American history and . . . well, history history) all year long. And we should be doing the same with digital tools. There are some great things out there. I love the DocsTeach app from the National Archives. People are thinking about how apps fit into instruction. Teachers are using video games. We should be using great web sites and Web 2.0 goodies as a part of what we do.

But we need to do it with intention and deliberate thought – because when we do it right, we teach better and kids learn more.


Image source:

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Joe #

    Dear Glen
    You are so right. Your readers and you may be interestedin in what EDSITEment’s suggestions in this regard posted on our new Closer Readings blog yesterday. Would love it if you could add us to your blogroll.


    February 6, 2013
    • glennw #


      Sorry for not approving this comment sooner! WordPress dumped it in the spam folder and I just got around to cleaning that up.

      Your blog post has some awesome stuff on it! Thanks for sharing. Will add a link and will share a quick Tip of the Week post about Closer Readings.


      February 21, 2013
  2. I think you’re my new best buddy. I enjoy both the content and general tone of your blog. Preach it brother. Keep adding your common-sense approach to the technology conversation please. I was co-teaching in a colleague’s English classroom recently (in January) and the topic was the writings of Frederick Douglass. An African-American student asked “Why are we talking about Frederick Douglass, it’s not Black History Month.” Pretty bad when the black kids are conditioned to expect black history only during one particular month.

    February 6, 2013
    • glennw #


      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I can always use more best buds.

      (Loving your grumpy teacher look on Twitter. I wasn’t faking it this morning! Now following your tweets.)


      February 6, 2013
  3. Like!

    February 6, 2013
    • glennw #

      It’s kind of a grumpy post but today I’m feeling a bit grumpy so . . . it fit. I’m glad you like it anyway!


      February 6, 2013
  4. #3 is my favorite, haha. Thanks for the reminder and a giggle, Glenn!

    February 7, 2013
    • glennw #


      I wasn’t quite sure what the reaction would be – so am glad you enjoyed it. Have a great day!


      February 7, 2013
  5. Kelly Ralston #

    You said it perfectly! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but thank you. Perfect way to end my day today!

    February 7, 2013
    • glennw #

      You can do both! Have a great weekend.


      February 8, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. How not to celebrate Digital Learning Day | History Tech | iPads in Education Daily |
  2. How not to celebrate Digital Learning Day | Connected Learning |
  3. How not to celebrate Digital Learning Day | Moodle and Web 2.0 |
  4. iPads are the problem, not the solution | History Tech

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: