Schools and stakeholders across the nation advocated for more access to educational technology during Digital Learning Day.

Thirty-nine states, 15,000 teachers, and 1.7 million students participated in the first-ever Digital Learning Day on Feb. 1, which aimed to demonstrate how technology is improving teaching and learning across the nation.

Headed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day kicked off with web sessions focusing on leadership and innovation, instruction, and professional learning and teacher effectiveness before attendees viewed a national town hall webcast featuring Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and video conferences with teachers and students from exemplary schools across the nation.

“We have to do everything we can to foster education and to help us move from print to digital as fast as we can,” Duncan said, noting that while technology has transformed businesses and governments around the world, it has only slightly changed the way most U.S. schools operate.

“We have to move from being a laggard to being a leader,” he said, challenging schools to move from print to digital textbooks within five years.

In March, Duncan and Genachowski will convene a meeting with policy makers and stakeholders to develop real action plans that will help the U.S. move forward and remain competitive with foreign education systems, Genachowski said.

Watch to see an example of one district’s Digital Learning Day


“The world has changed dramatically in the just the last year. … The next thing we want to do is to keep this moving forward,” he said.

A live chat continued through the presentations, and participants discussed “bring your own device” initiatives, how to ensure equity in educational technology access, the use of cell phones in classrooms, and more.

Kristin Kipp, the 2011 National Online Teacher of the Year, said digital learning and online education provide opportunities to students who might not graduate from high school otherwise.