Home Digital Literacy Buzzword Breakdown: Making Sense of Digital Learning

Buzzword Breakdown: Making Sense of Digital Learning

by Carolyn Mitchell, Guest Author
digital learning

As teachers, we all want to prepare our students for educational and career success in their future. We also know that there are multiple ways and multiple environments in which to do this, and understand that technology and digital learning can be key in delivering and differentiating instruction.

So why does the rapidly changing terminology for learning with technology confuse us and make us want to scream? (Feel free to take a moment to put your hands to your cheeks and scream aloud in your best Macaulay Culkin – Home Alone imitation).

Blending, Flipping, and Flexing

Let’s go back in time for a moment. Besides the always popular face-to-face classroom learning experience, we have heard the terms e-learning, flipped classroom/flipped learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, flexible learning, online learning, virtual learning, distance learning, digital learning, and many others. You are probably familiar with at least one of these terms and maybe familiar with all of them. If not, put the unfamiliar words in your favorite search engine and get a feel for the latest and greatest buzzwords in educational lingo.

Don’t be confused or perplexed by the plethora of terms. The following should be your mantra as an educator who has a relationship with technology but wants to increase the engagement and experience level of your students:

  • Technology is a tool to enhance classroom learning and does not take the place of the teacher.
  • I am not afraid to fail in front of my students.
  • TCEA is here to help me.

Putting Tech to Work

Want to branch out in your technology use but maintain some structure and control? In the Canopy project, a collaborative effort undertaken by the Clayton Christensen Institute in order to discover innovative schools and their approaches to student-centered learning, the schools identified as using the blended learning practice ranked the station rotation model as the number one most commonly-used model. Students rotate through online learning stations on a fixed schedule and the learning is student-centered with the teacher as the facilitator.

Everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous surveys that say the number one fear for humans is public speaking. In a Psychology Today blog post, Dr. Glenn Croston makes a connection between the survival of our early ancestors and our fear of public ostracism. I would add that, as a teacher, our number one fear is failing in front of our students.

When I started out as an instructional technologist more than a decade ago with a mandate to help teachers integrate technology into their instruction, the main reason for not integrating technology was “I don’t want to look stupid in front of my students.” I would hope that we are past that reasoning. But if not, utilize your students’ knowledge of technology! Ask a friend/colleague/mentor for help. 

Your Support System

Finally, TCEA is here to help you with a vast array of opportunities to add to your pedagogy and skills. There are special interest groups (SIGs) that cover a wide range of technology specialties. And if online, blended, virtual, or whatever-you-call-it learning is an area of interest, check out the Virtual Learning SIG during the 2020 Convention. We are stronger together!


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