Building a digital learning mindset, the moon belongs to everyone #dlday

The yearly celebration of Digital Learning Day causes all of us to think about what it really means to be a digital educator. I have written about the continuum from textbook enhanced to online teaching and learning, how blended learning intersects with the SAMR model and what blended learning is and is not. The real challenge is how does one change a mindset?

At first I thought it was about changing the culture. But after thinking more about this, it really comes down to changing a person’s mindset. Many of us who have worked in education have witnessed the purchase of large quantities of digital projectors or computers in our schools … only to see them collect dust in a closet or corner. So, to change a person’s mindset takes more than a bunch of devices in a classroom.

Many school districts have provided ongoing professional development (a better term is now “professional learning”) about how to integrate technology in the classroom. And then you walk into those classrooms and teachers have students using textbooks or paper based resources as part of their teaching and learning.

As I think about what changes a person’s mindset, I came across this recent interview with Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and the first African American in that position during the Bush administration. He was being interviewed about 50 Years since the Selma march, but at the end of the interview, he was asked about the email issues being encountered by Hillary Clinton. He did not respond to that question, but he did share something that helps to change people’s mindsets about the use of technology. He said, “In order to change the culture, to change the brainware, as I call it, I started using it [email] in order to get everybody to use it, so we could be a 21st century institution and not a 19th century…” 

The museum world is also struggling with the use of technology and I found this blogpost also speaks to how to change a mindset. Entitled “The moon belongs to everyone: embracing a digital mindset in museums“, Mike Murawski shared several important thoughts. If you simply replace the word “museum” with “school” or “education” it is all the same:

  • “As we focus more and more on digital and online experiences, are we sacrificing any of the human-centered elements that have been at the core of museum education for more than a century? If your museum lost power, how would that affect the learning experiences in the galleries and across programming?”
  • “this challenge is absolutely not about technology, which we are often guilty of fetishising as a solution to problems. It is first and foremost about audience and the ways in which digital technologies are changing their behaviours: at work, at home, on the move, learning, playing, questioning, socialising, sharing, communicating. Forever. – Jane Finnis”
  • “Technology should not govern the museums’ work. But in order to learn and understand how we can use new technologies and benefit from the opportunities they open up for us, we must explore and incorporate not just technologies themselves, but also changes in behaviour and expectations they prompt in users. We must think like users. – Jane Finnis”
  • “If museums are to remain relevant, vital and meaningful, then they must adapt to a changing society, which means not only recognizing and incorporating new digital tools for communication, but more importantly, recognizing the changing needs and aspirations of society as reflected in their communities of physical and virtual visitors” – Susana Smith Bautista, Museums in the Digital Age 
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