by Anne Lenzini
What is it and how does it work?
A few of us from Dr. Turner’s Media Literacy and Technology course attended a workshop led byTroy Hicks about Digital Is. Digital Is is a knowledge base for teachers and educators to share resources that explore how to teach writing in the digital age. Ivelisse, an educator attending the workshop, described Digital Is as a support group of educators wanting to increase their use of technology in the classroom, and I think she is absolutely right.
In this forum, teachers can add blog posts, comment on blog posts, create Resources for educators, or compile those resources into Collections. During the workshop with Dr. Hicks, we focused primarily on understanding what a Digital Is Resource is and began the production of our own Resources. A Resource in Digital Is often feels like a blog post, sometimes with multiple sub-posts, that reflect on or encourage the use of digital literacy in schools. Resources range from posts about successful projects that incorporate video making or Facebook into an ELA or Social Studies classroom to larger “calls to action” around digital collaboration and planning.
Why use Digital Is?
There are a number of reasons to visit this site including accessing Resources to inspire oneself to play with new technology in the classroom, exploring progressive philosophies driving the digital movement in education, finding practical resources about how to incorporate technology into the classroom, and reading reflections on how to improve the use of technology in schools. As Cassie mentioned during the workshop, an educator can start at Digital Is to see when a technology works best by reading saavy educator’s reflections rather than relying on trial and error in ones own classroom.
How would I use Digital Is as a new teacher?
As a consumer, I will visit Digital Is to expose myself to veteran educators who have creatively integrated technology into their classroom. I will use their Resources as a jumping off point for my own brainstorming and unit/lesson planning. I will collaborate with other educators to ensure I am “standing on the shoulders of giants” rather than working in silos.
As a writer, I can share my own experiences (successes and failures) around integrating technology, I can share my planning process for deciding which technologies to include in my classroom, and share ideas for how to best implement new technology. The Resource I drafted during the workshop would include an introductory post explaining my need for one platform that holds me accountable for being an organized educator. It would explain the need for a software that lets me communicate easily and efficiently with my students, allows them to see an overview of what assignments they are expected to complete, allows me to easily offer feedback on their work, and track their progress and grades. Ideally, it would be software that enables communication amongst students and seamlessly integrates with Google Documents. I would add at least three sub-posts that would be linked from the introductory post. These would include graphics and tables explaining my decision-making process, tips for software set-up that include screen shots for any challenging or confusing user interfaces, and ongoing teacher and student reflection on the software.
My biggest take away from the workshop that I would like to share with you is three-fold: 1) we, as educators, are responsible for collaborating with our peers both inside and outside of our school buildings, 2) we are, therefore, responsible for seeking out powerful tools and forums that will allow us to collaborate and hold us accountable for growth as we continue teaching, and 3) Digital Is is the perfect forum to continue professional development, networking, reflection, and growth around teaching writing and digital literacy in today’s overwhelmingly fast-paced digital world.
This workshop also served to remind me that, even though I am a new teacher, my voice is worth hearing. I should not be afraid; in fact, I should be excited to share my reflections on teaching and incorporating technology into my classroom, especially given my steep learning curve. I will begin by consuming Resources in Digital Is, knowing that I will eventually be a writer will hold me accountable to deeper reflection on my practice and will give that reflection purpose with an audience of educators.