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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Celebrating Digital Learning Together

Students in Mrs. Portland’s class in Pottsville Area High School, recently celebrated Digital Learning day by joining in a classroom discussion with students hundreds of miles away at Mt. Olive High School in NJ.  Digital Learning Day, organized the Alliance for Excellent Education, is a “nationwide celebration of innovative teaching and learning through digital media and technology that engages students and provides them with a rich, personalized educational experience.”  On Digital Learning Day thousands of teachers and nearly two million students joined in encouraging digital learning by trying something new and showcasing their success.

Classroom Discussions in the Cloud
Students used the SCAN tool, designed by TregoED to promote critical thinking on complex issues, to examine the issue of cell phones in schools from four different perspectives.  As they played the roles of teachers, administrators, students and parents they brought out the issues, benefits and drawbacks, of using cell phones in school and collaborated on ideas to develop a working policy or plan to resolve those issues.  As students used screen names and avatars, they could not differentiate their classmates from their peers at the other high school.   Unlike a regular classroom discussion where some students may overshadow others, online discussions include all participants in the discussion.  The SCAN tool walks students through a problem solving process in an engaging Facebook-like platform.  

Many issues were brought out during the discussion including the use of smart phones for research and emergencies, as well as the distractions that they could cause in the classroom. Students made many suggestions that would allow for their use, and take care of the problems they might cause. 

Putting 21st Century Skills into Practice
This inter-school collaboration was a great example of using digital learning to strengthen the learning experience.  As all students were thoughtfully engaged in the discussion of the potential impact and pitfalls of the beloved cell phone in the classroom, they were also practicing using the 21st Century Skills of communication, problem solving, collaboration and good digital citizenship. 

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