Perhaps, “Digital Learning Day” Came and Went without Your Noticing, Too

As far as I can determine, Digital Learning Day is an invention of Arne Duncan’s Department of Education. Whether appropriately or ironically, or both, it occurred on Friday, March 13.

If you go to the section of the Department of Education website devoted to this special day [http://www.digitallearningday.org/site/default.aspx?PageID=11], you will find links to Online Resources, Digital Tools, and Interactive Lessons, some of which are actually not objectionable and even potentially helpful.

For example, on the pages for the online resources, there are some free and rich resources mixed in among what amount to advertisements for corporate educational software providers:

All Online Resources 1

All Online Resources 2

All Online Resources 3

All Online Resources 4

All Online Resources 5

All Online Resources 6

The bent of this Department of Education is, however, much more pronounced in the sections for Fact Sheets and Briefs, Research and Policy Papers, and Policy Recommendations, in which even the titles expose the abdication to the jargon of education technology and to the educational technocrats. Consider the pages on Research and Policy Papers:

Research and Policy Papers 1

Research and Policy Papers 2

Research and Policy Papers 3

Research and Policy Papers 4

Indeed, we have become so used to the jargon that it all might even sound fairly benign. But it has all sounded fairly benign for the past two decades. And over that period, education has been relentlessly subjected to digital “innovation.” And the only appreciable result has been a dramatic increase in corporate profit-making from “educational reform” that has been in inverse proportion to the steep decline in state support for public education.

In that context, I find this item on “Digital Citizenship” to be especially unsettling, precisely because of how benignly it is expressed:

“Although today’s youth have grown up using digital media and technology in their everyday lives, they are not innately equipped with the skills needed to be smart digital citizens. The concept of digital citizenship is broad and encompasses issues such as digital literacy, safety, and ethics. From learning about their ‘online footprint’ to thinking about how to critically analyze the vast sources of information on the web, digital citizenship is about helping youth better navigate their digital world.”

In other contexts, the foundations that are the major funders of “educational reform” have very pointedly described their ideas about properly informed citizens. And I think that it is very fair to say that they are clearly not in favor of promoting the kind of critical-thinking skills that would lead young people to question the faith in technocracy and digital solutions to any and all of the world’s problems or to challenge the passive acceptance of income inequality and oligarchy as beneficient realities.

 

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