Celebrating Ten Years of Digital Learning Day!

Ten years ago, the policy landscape for digital learning was uncertain. Believe it or not, school leaders and the public did not realize the potential that the effective use of technology can have to close inequities and personalize instructional opportunities for students.

Instead, teachers felt uncertain about their roles in a digital transformation. In many schools and districts, using technology in the classroom became an all-out event. Forward-leaning teachers had to make reservations, use specialized equipment, get in-depth training, and raise their own grant funds with advanced permission from principals to purchase new software programs.

Eager to support these early adopters and highlight the value and potential for ubiquitous technology in the nation’s schools, the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) launched Digital Learning Day to celebrate innovative teachers and to improve learning experiences and outcomes for students.

The early days of Digital Learning Day forged a path for policymakers and practitioners alike to advance high-quality digital learning throughout U.S. K–12 public schools and improve approaches to instruction using technology, especially for students in historically underserved communities. These early celebrations showcased the pioneering teachers, principals, and district leaders who were leading the way.

Thankfully, Digital Learning Day and advances in educational technology shifted perceptions of classroom technology from simply being a “nice thing to have” to a necessary tool to improve instruction, increase opportunities, and eliminate educational inequities.

More recently, Digital Learning Day has become #DLDay—an online celebration where educators share great ideas, amazing stories, and promising practices through social media and within their own schools and communities. Thousands of local events, interactive activities, and lessons mark the importance of innovation in schools and remind district leaders that every day should be a digital learning day in public school classrooms.

That sentiment could not be more powerful today as Digital Learning Day has assumed an entirely new meaning. In response to school closures during spring 2020, many schools and districts were forced to build the digital learning infrastructure necessary to deliver high-quality remote learning and help their teachers and parents pivot quickly to implement research-based digital learning practices into their distance learning plans.

Now, more than ever, digital learning is not confined to a school or classroom. Instead learning is mobile and should be available to students anytime and anywhere. Whether learning happens at home, school, a library, or local coffee shop it must be high-quality, customizable, and equitable for each and every student.

Although current circumstances created by a global pandemic are undesirable, they offer district, school, and classroom leaders an opportunity to transform the policies and daily practices that guide teaching and learning. Through collaborative leadership, educators can redesign the school experience and deliver on the potential digital learning holds for creating a workforce that truly is future ready.

Since the last Digital Learning Day in February 2020, the world has changed. Schools have changed. Teachers have changed. Students have changed. Many district and school leaders were forced to pivot quickly to ensure that all students have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities. They had to issue laptops, train teachers on remote instruction, communicate with parents, and find way to keep students fed and healthy all from a distance.

For a decade, Digital Learning Day has focused on K–12 public education. It emphasized the “learning” over “digital,” celebrated the critical role of teachers and their essential relationships with students, and advanced education technology as an equity issue advocating for policies to close the digital divide and provide ample internet access to schools, students, and families.

As we celebrate Digital Learning Day’s tenth anniversary, we plan to work even more closely with All4Ed’s Future Ready Schools® (FRS) network to celebrate success, acknowledge the challenges, and share stories of educators overcoming adversity. Since so much has changed since the last Digital Day Learning Day, we too are changing to embrace new and different ways to celebrate Digital Learning Day 2021.

We are better and stronger when we work together with colleagues, students, and community members! We invite you to join the celebration and our amazing group of innovators who care so deeply for the future of public education. By joining the FRS Digital Learning Day network, you will receive ongoing opportunities to connect, share, and learn as educators reimagine the future of school. This new network will draw information from the FRS instructional leaders group to ensure every day is a high-quality, engaging, exciting and interactive Digital Learning Day!

Join the Network