Today is Digital Learning Day, part of an effort to put more emphasis on the possibilities computers, the Internet and new technology offer to improve education.
Advocates argue access and customization are the biggest advantages to digital instruction. Students often find digital instruction more engaging — pull out those smart phones and Wi-Fi enabled iPods, students — and the materials can be more interactive and easily updated.
Critics argue there’s often no evidence that digital instruction is more effective, and school districts may be wasting money on ineffective, shiny gizmos. Education business analyst Lee Wilson argues digital textbooks on the iPad can cost more than five times as much as a traditional textbook and require additional management and training for effective use.
But Florida lawmakers believe in the advantages of digital learning and have required schools to deliver half of their instruction digitally beginning in the fall of 2015. The state requires students to take one online course in order to graduate high school. Florida students are also more likely to take a standardized test on a computer than in other states.
The adoption of these policies is due in no small part to former Gov. Jeb Bush, who has advocated across the country to incorporate more technology in education. Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise started Digital Learning Now!
Some of the largest education firms support Bush’s efforts, and his brother, Neil, founded an education technology company.
The group has a 10-point checklist of what makes up high-quality digital learning. Among the group’s 10 elements:
- Every student can learn digitally, and should have access to digital options — and that means the infrastructure to support all those students.
- Assessment and accountability to make sure students are learning, often through testing. Students should be able to move at their own pace when they demonstrate they have mastered the lessons.
- Good content and good instruction.
Naturally, advocates are hosting events online today about digital learning’s possibilities.
For more on Digital Learning Day, check out #DLDay on Twitter and Instagram.