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Digital, Global Learning

Digital Learning Day was an inspiration. It has, for one, inspired me to write about three things I wish to see happen.

The organizers Alliance for Excellent Education defined digital learning as "any instructional practice using technology to strengthen student learning." Educators and policymakers throughout the United States watched and chatted online as experts share best practices and innovative classrooms showcased how they use technology. There was certainly a lot to cover.

The three things touched very lightly upon, but that I'd like to call out as important goals are:

Every student should have experiences working with experts and peers around the world on global issues. Students will be graduating into a global knowledge economy that is largely spurred by digital technologies. It's hard to consider authentic education without being digitally connected with the real world. Connect All Schools has a mission to link every American classroom with one abroad by 2016. It is an important and achievable goal. Steps to get started? See the professional development offered by organizations like iEARN or Taking IT Global.

Districts need to stop blocking websites that connect students to the larger world. Many schools cannot access sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, and many more. However well intentioned the policies that block social media are, they are also failing our students by limiting possibilities for learning about—and from—the world. The right way to approach student activity online is through better education. To start, digital and media literacy help students think critically and act responsibly. Authentic, real-world projects compel students to explore and engage in all the right ways.

Digital and global learning should be interwoven in pre-service education, trainings, mentoring, continuing education, and evaluations. We cannot realize excellence in digital learning if teacher professional development is not part of the equation. Chances are, the world will not become less digital nor less global in our lifetimes. Anyone responsible for a young person's education needs to be a digital citizen.

Many of the excellent teachers I meet every day lament these shortcomings. Let's do right by them—and by our rising generation—and meet these goals in a hurry.

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