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Digital Learning Day……More about the Learning than the Digital

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January 03, 2012 06:36 pm


The following blog post comes from Cheryl Williams, the executive director of the Learning First Alliance, which is a core partner of Digital Learning Day. Learn more about Digital Learning Day at

Quite by accident my career as a K-12 educator was steered to learning about and promoting the use of technology in the classroom, schools, and districts twenty-five years ago when I went to work in the Education Technology Program department at the National School Boards Association (NSBA). What I knew then, before I was very knowledgeable about technology, digital media, distance learning, telecommunications, E-rate, online professional development, open source, multi-media or any of the other subtopics and/or semantics used in the education technology arena, was that the most important thing in the formal education classroom was the skill of the teacher in relating to students, engaging their interest, and opening the world of intellectual curiosity and exploration.

As the executive director of the Learning First Alliance (LFA), a coalition of 16 national education organizations representing the professionals and community members whose work focuses on public schooling, I’m delighted to participate in Digital Learning Day, February 1, 2012, and publicly support on behalf of LFA members the examples of talented teachers and teaching using the tools of the 21st century to open the world of learning to the students they serve.

It’s my hope that this effort led by energetic education leadership at the Alliance for Excellent Education, will help close the unhelpful gap of perspectives that divides the issues around technology from those around learning. Those of us who have devoted our professional lives to supporting public schools and the work they do know that students have unique learning needs and successful teachers have a variety of styles that work in different settings and under varied circumstances. Digital media and the technologies that support its use offer a toolbox for educators and parents to engage young minds in knowledge acquisition, critical explorations of new ideas, collaborative opportunities, and communication capabilities unavailable in the traditional classroom. What supporters of technology use in education sometimes fail to acknowledge are the important considerations of developmental appropriateness for technology intervention in the learning process. Students at different ages and maturation levels are ready for different learning experiences that involve technology to enable that experience, and a talented teacher is key to the success of technology’s involvement.

So, those of us who know how powerful digital media and technology can be in the education arena, also know that teaching and learning is a human activity built on relationships that are based on mutual respect, engagement, and commitment to the exploration of new knowledge and ideas that excite students and provide the foundation for their success in life and work in a global community.

Cheryl Williams is the executive director of the Learning First Alliance, which is a core partner of Digital Learning Day. Learn more about Digital Learning Day at

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