Domains of Digital Learning – EdTechTeacher

Post by Jed Stefanowicz, Digital Learning Coach

As a digital learning coach, my primary goal has always been to support and improve the instructional capacity of educators. As we begin the 2022-2023 school year, I have expanded my goal as we continue our post-pandemic recovery. My role is most effective as a collaborator integrating digital learning practices to assist educators regain their classrooms, rekindle their passions, and confirm their purpose.

If we remember to stick to the ABC’s – Always Build Capacity (thanks @jeantower), we can do a little reflective practice to reverse that acronym and find out why. That brings us to the CBA-Capacity Builds Agency. Yes, capacity builds agency, and that is the struggle I see many classrooms face as we look for restorative practices to “return to normal.”

Learning loss can be a toxic and triggering phrase, but the loss that the people within the school walls worry about the most is the loss of agency, both student and teacher agency, where leadership, autonomy, resilience and flexibility are prioritized. My view of agency through the lens of digital learning is the intersection and application of three domains of digital learning: Wellness, Competenceand Creativity.

Wellness describes WHO students are and remain through a digital citizenship and social-emotional lens. Competence describes what digital skills and behaviors students acquire to become empowered learners. Creativity describes how students acquire knowledge and demonstrate learning through integrated technology. Educators, schools, and districts working to promote digital learning at scale can usually divide their products, practices, goals, and objectives into these three domains. Using the three domains to start a branching framework, there are components within each domain that leaders can identify as areas of focus, goals, or growth. These sub-components are described in the following sections and are categorized to help school teams or leaders identify ways to work towards change, rather than trying to lift all aspects of digital learning at once.

Wellness

Wellness in digital learning is more complex and comprehensive than an outdated coverage of digital citizenship. In fact, digital citizenship is often viewed by classroom teachers and families within the context of Internet safety and behavior. Wellness builds on and extends digital citizenship while encompassing and including families, communities, social emotional learning and mental health in a more holistic view of digital literacy. See the links at the end of this post to dig deeper into digital wellness components (physical, cognitive, emotional, community) through Kerry Gallagher’s Connect Safely blog.

Schools looking to expand their scope of wellness support for their learning community can begin by expanding from a limited digital citizenship perspective to incorporate technology that supports social-emotional learning and engages families and communities.

Competence

This domain spans the skills students acquire and the opportunities we provide to measure their capacity and growth. In a competence approach, learning shifts to the application of concepts in intentional and meaningful states. Competency in digital learning measures students’ ability to perform tasks and apply authentic skills across content areas rather than navigating a scope and sequence of technology-based tasks around the operation of products and devices.

The competence domain reminds us to keep our teaching focus on learner processes rather than vendor products, and the competence domain addresses capacity building, competence development and digital literacy as the priorities for effective digital learning rather than limited technology operation.

Creativity

If we want to empower a generation of content creators, we need to prioritize digital design and creativity as critical classroom skills. We need to update what it means for students to publish their work through methods such as digital media, blogs, podcasts and presentations. Shifting students from consuming to creating is a gradual process that has suffered a setback as they return from the pandemic. It is more important than ever to engage all students with effective technology integration.

Future-ready students require opportunities and opportunities to ignite higher order thinking. Creativity and flexibility promote engaged learning, collaborative problem solving and enhanced learning. The creative process requires an approach and an educator who believes that innovation is a culture shift, not climate action, and that empowered student voice and choice through authentic digital literacy is an essential classroom competency.

When it comes to professional learning, it may be too much to expect any classroom teacher to do the necessary work of rebuilding students’ attachment to school and learning while reclaiming their own. Teachers have identified the final year as the most difficult to date, leaving little room for professional growth beyond the essentials. Conceptualizing digital learning across domains can ease the burden. Focusing individually on digital well-being, competence or creativity domains reduces the cognitive load on educators and shifts the expectation to more targeted capacity-building efforts.

Considering these three domains of well-being, competence, and creativity is also a way for administrators to focus their assessment on ways in which teachers engage students with technology. Let’s move past entry-level tech integration ideas. We is integrated, whether through 1:1 devices, LMS platforms or tech-enhanced lesson plans. Let’s expand our interpretation of digital learning to gain a richer and more meaningful understanding of technology integration that addresses student well-being, competencies, and creativity.

William

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.