In October, the Iowa Department of Education released the Iowa Digital Learning Plan. This plan focuses on digital learning as it relates to five key components: Leadership, Teaching, Learning, Assessment, and Infrastructure. At Benton Community, we gathered a team of teachers o focus on this work.
At the beginning of the school year, teachers, students, and families took a survey around digital learning. The BC Digital Learning Team came together and spent most of their first meeting and part of their second meeting really digging into the survey results. The survey data helped the team see where Benton Community needed to celebrate and where Benton Community needed to grow. Access to devices and high speed internet were definite areas of celebration. When looking at the results for places to grow, the survey pointed the team in the direction of work on the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. The team had continued conversation about technology and its purpose. No one wanted to use technology for the sake of using technology. This led the group to more discussion around what “digital learning” really means.
Digital learning is learning supported by digital tools and resources. Examples of digital learning include online learning, blended learning, adaptive assessment solutions, and open educational resources. The focus of digital learning begins and ends with the learning experience of the student. That experience starts with the instructional practices a teacher uses in the classroom. Digital tools and resources should be a part of the tools available to teachers to support their instructional practice. As Michael Fullan (2017) eloquently stated, “Pedagogy is the driver and technology is the accelerator.” A teacher’s instructional practices are enhanced and learning is transformed when digital learning is used to support, or accelerate, those practices. (Iowa Digital Learning Plan)
The state has developed an Iowa Digital Learning Plan that was rolled out this fall. In this video, Dr. Wise, shares information about the development of the plan including the stakeholders involved in creating the plan. He also makes connections to Iowa’s Future Ready Iowa goals. The Benton Community Digital Learning Plan is modeled after the state plan. All of the key components of the state plan have been included and connected to the spokes of the Bobcat Wheel.
The Benton Community Digital Learning Plan is broken down by the spokes of the Bobcat Wheel. Again, the BC Digital Learning Team did not want to talk about using technology only to use more technology. The conversation really centered around the idea that technology needs to leverage or support what is happening in classrooms, not replace it. Also, the work of the team did not focus on devices, types of devices, etc. Instead of getting into a device conversation, the team really focused on how technology fits into what teaching and learning needs to look like across Benton Community.
Each spoke of the Bobcat Wheel is featured in the plan, including a definition that describes each spoke’s focus area and additional information on how students and teachers can use digital tools to grow in the skill area. Working from a common definition helped guide how students and teachers can use digital tools to support the spoke or skill being addressed.
Both the Iowa Digital Learning Plan and Benton Community Digital Learning Plan contain examples of digital learning. Benton Community is included in the Iowa Digital Learning Plan under the Leadership section. The story in the Iowa DLP focuses on the #BCEdCamp hosted each summer. The Benton Digital Learning Plan includes local stories of how our teachers are promoting the skills addressed in the spokes of the Bobcat Wheel using digital learning tools. There are a variety of stories included in the plan. Each Bobcat Story has a link to additional information as well as additional resources. The BC Digital Learning Team recognizes that these are just a few examples, and more stories will be added over time.
After hearing about the Benton Community Digital Learning Plan, teachers engaged in a morning full of opportunities and choice tied to digital learning and the spokes of the Bobcat Wheel. Session information and resources can be found below.
BC Digital Learning Plan (Also accessible from the district website)
BC Digital Learning Presentation