Digital thinking: Why we have to do better

My Digital Learning colleague and I were planning a Portfolios and Performance Tasks PD session yesterday and it was such a rich day of learning. Blending our understanding of curriculum, learning and the possibilities for students, we had an amazing day. We both left feeling energized. Here are my personal thoughts as we worked through our co-planning day:

*When we think we don’t have access to computers (ie. the lab is booked), think again. Our BYOD policy opens up possibilities in ways I have only begun to consider.

*When we require students to handwrite their products before typing up the good copy, we are denying students the opportunity to think in a different way. Creating digitally means thinking in a new way. I speak from experience. Typing after handwriting is very different from creating while typing. We have to open up this space for students.

*Denying students the opportunity to think digitally is denying them a thinking process most of them have developed. It would be like saying to a teacher, “Yes, I know you like to speak in class but you have to communicate though sign language.” Why deny an already developed skill?

*When we force unnatural processes, we force students to tolerate and comply instead of inquire and explore. I do not want schools to be about compliance before all else. Sometimes I worry that students come to school and tolerate our system, only to return home to learn they way they really want to. This is worth talking about with students.

* Thinking digitally honours introverted learning needs while also opening up collaborative spaces -the best of both worlds.

* Thinking digitally is not just about computers. It may seem crazy to accept that students can compose and create on a tablet or phone but I am blogging on my I Pad right now and so I know this is not a valid argument.

*We have to figure out ways to get more devices in the hands of students. I don’t think this is the only way to communicate and explore but it is an essential one for sure.

*Digital portfolios capture the learning process as well as the product, which is so important for reflective and responsive planning. It makes the process of sharing and assessing more natural; it streamlines many of the processes we struggle with (handing in assignments, losing work, time to observe and listening to individual students, sharing with an audience larger than the teacher for a purpose greater than evaluation). It is a solution to many problems.

Like I said, a day filled with learning. I am not an all or nothing person – balance is important in honouring all students. However, when it comes to digital thinking, I sometimes wonder if we are listening to students enough.

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