Synergy Sparks Digital Literacy

Redefined roles create new possibilities for teachers and students

By Learning Forward
April 2014
Learning and leading happen everywhere — and technology unlocks access to information. Want to visit a local museum, but you’re not sure how to get there? Download directions from a map app, key the address into a GPS or your phone, and a voice provides turn-by-turn instructions to the destination. Interested in an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but can’t get to Washington, D.C.? A website provides a self-directed virtual tour ( Students — even preschoolers — are curious and boldly confident in knowing how to access information on a multitude of devices. Why are some adults uneasy about using technology? Knowledge has become an accessible commodity, and reaching for information on the Internet is remarkably comfortable and intuitive to most

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Kristine Gullen and Tovah Sheldon

Kristine Gullen ( is an educational consultant for Oakland Schools in Waterford, MI. Tovah Sheldon ( is an assistant professor in the School of Education at Spring Arbor University.

Internet evolution



Users of the internet

16 million

2.75 billion

World’s population that is online



Registered domains


265 million

Sources: Internet World Stats, 2014; Verisign, 2013.

Quick Technology Resources For Educators

21 Things for the 21st Century Educator

50 Education Technology Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

13 Free Web Tools Students and Teachers Should Know About   

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Resources

Ground Rules For Student Dialogues

When gathering a group of students to hear their opinions and suggestions, be ready. We found most students are very comfortable, willing, and eager to share with adults who listen. Positive outcomes often happen if these conversations are planned well. Setting ground rules is an important first step. We would suggest asking students to agree to:

  • Speak from their own experience, not what they have heard from others;
  • Describe the characteristics of the learning, not the people involved; and
  • Remember that the conversation is to help design or redesign instruction. Think about positive examples of current lessons or projects and also suggestions for future planning and design.


Erickson-Guy, N. & Gullen, K. (2013, April). Beyond texting: Using cell phones in the classroom. Middle Ground, 16(4), 14-16.

Gullen, K. & Zimmerman, H. (2013, March). Saving time with technology. Educational Leadership, 70(6), 63-66.

Internet World Stats. (2014). Internet growth statistics. Available at

Learning Forward. (2011). Standards for Professional Learning. Oxford, OH: Author.

Verisign. (2013). The domain name industry brief. Available at

Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need — and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Basic Books Group.

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Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

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