Without a doubt, digital learning has been a buzzword in education circles for a while now. Some call it 21st century learning, some call it common sense and others call it a fad. There’s a general consensus, however, that our education system struggles to keep up with the rate of change in the world around it. For every innovative school and afterschool program, there are countless more with inadequate access to technology and with a limited understanding of its potential. The task of modernizing our education system may seem somewhat daunting, but I must say that this year’s Digital Learning Day and Pres. Obama’s recent remarks about plans for ConnectED left me feeling pretty hopeful that we’re on the brink of a real shift in how we think about what it takes to expand access to digital learning opportunities.
Unsurprisingly, funding is often viewed as a road block to progress. It takes money to build the infrastructure, more money to buy the technology, and still more money for maintenance and professional development. Let’s face it—digital learning is expensive, and increased funding is not necessarily the easiest thing to come by.
Have you heard the news? This week, the National Institute on Drug Abuse is holding the third annual National Drug Facts Week. In this video, teens from three Maryland youth programs—TEENWORKS, Voices for Change, and DrugFree's Teen Advisory Council—share their thoughts on drug abuse.
Every day, teens are bombarded with conflicting messages that may leave them feeling confused and unsure of who to ask for information about drug use. With 7% of teens reporting abuse of prescription drugs in the past year and 22% of 12th graders reporting using marijuana in the past month, it’s crucial to reach teens with the facts.
Wondering how you can take part? There are plenty of ways to get involved and help shatter the myths about drug use for teens:
- Host a local event in your community—don’t forget to register online
- Distribute the "Drugs: Shatter the Myths" booklet or other helpful resources to teens and parents in your community
- Take the National Drug IQ Challenge
- Help spread the word
For more ideas and the latest news, visit the National Drug Facts Week website.
We’re inviting teachers, afterschool leaders and educators everywhere to celebrate Digital Learning Day by accepting the #make4DLDay challenge, a set of digital storytelling activities that allow youth and adults to be makers for Digital Learning Day.
Both the maker education and digital learning movements are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing. From cardboard and clay to circuits and computers, kids can use a variety of analogue and digital tools to tell their story. The #make4DLDay challenge is about sharing ideas among educators, and experimenting with modern ways of engaging youth in making and digital storytelling.
Accepting the #make4DLDay challenge is easy—here’s how:
- Choose your level. We’ve got multiple activities for educators with varying levels of experience using digital tools. Choose your level based on the tools most readily accessible to you.
- Pick a relevant topic. Digital storytelling can be applied to almost any topic, from geography to STEM. Design your activity around a topic of interest to your students.
- Share your work. On Feb. 5, share your photos, videos and links to students’ work with other innovative educators by using the hashtag #make4DLDay.
On Feb. 5, thousands of educators will take part in the third annual Digital Learning Day, a nationwide celebration of common sense, effective applications of digital learning that support educators, improve learning and provide opportunities for students to achieve at their highest potential. As part of this celebration, we’re excited to announce the #Make4DLDay challenge and want you to join the fun!
Thanks to digital media and technology, our education system is undergoing a major shift in how, where and what students are learning. The organizations collaborating in this challenge—the Afterschool Alliance, Edutopia, and the National Writing Project (via its Educator Innovator Initiative and Digital Is platform)—share a common belief that this shift should reflect connected learning principles, including interest-driven, production-centered learning opportunities for youth, in school and out. These principles allow youth to collaborate with peers and mentors in person and via the Web as they become producers of digital artifacts and not just consumers.
To that end, we’re inviting you to join us in accepting the #Make4DLDay challenge—a set of digital storytelling activities that allow youth and adults to be makers for Digital Learning Day.
Are you “Speaking Up” about digital learning this year? If not, you're missing a unique opportunity to have your views—as well as the views of your colleagues, students, their parents and the local community—included in the increasingly important U.S. national and state discussions on digital learning policies, programs and funding.
The Afterschool Alliance is proud to announce a special partnership with Project Tomorrow this year to encourage participation of afterschool organizations in their online research project Speak Up. The Speak Up National Research Project annually collects and reports on the authentic, unfiltered views of K–12 students, parents and educators about critical digital age education and technology issues. Since 2003, more than 3 million K–12 education stakeholders have shared their ideas about ed tech through the Speak Up online surveys. And we need your ideas too!
This year, for the first time, Project Tomorrow will be providing an additional online survey for community members. Local employers, after school providers, school board members and homeowners without children in the local schools can now provide their views on the role of technology in preparing students for the jobs and careers of the 21st century. This new set of data will provide valuable insights for the participating organizations as well as state and federal policymakers on the importance of digital tools and resources for college and career readiness.
Every year, Lights On Afterschool provides an opportunity for communities around the country to celebrate the many different ways that afterschool programs help to enrich children’s lives. These programs help kids see themselves as athletes, artists, scientists, musicians, engineers and much more. This year, to help us highlight the important role of afterschool in supporting STEM education, we’re partnering with4-H to link Lights On Afterschool with 4-H National Youth Science Day.
This is one part of our larger effort to support opportunities for more young people, especially those from populations under-represented in STEM fields, to explore and engage in STEM learning. The Afterschool Alliance is committed to advancing afterschool STEM education through our work focused around field-building; research; and advocacy, policy, and communications. That’s why we’re so thrilled to have partners like 4-H, which have been at the forefront of exposing young people to STEM learning opportunities for more than 100 years.
4-H National Youth Science Day seeks to spark early youth interest and leadership in STEM careers in an effort to keep America competitive in those fields. On Oct. 9, millions of young people will become scientists for the day by participating in a national science experiment. The 4-H Maps and Apps Experiment includes a set of activities that will turn young people into geospatial thinkers as they design and map their ideal park, use GIS mapping to solve community problems and contribute data about their community to the United States Geological Survey.
On July 10, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT, the Afterschool Alliance will join the National League of Cities (NLC) for a webinar about the potential impact of proposed changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program.
As Congress considers reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), proposed legislation would have important implications for the 21st CCLC program—the only source of federal funding dedicated specifically to supporting afterschool. This webinar is intended to help municipal leaders better understand the potential impact that these proposals could have on their communities and how to best position themselves to be ready for them.
Participants will learn about the implications for cities, as well as the impact that sequestration cuts will have on other key education and afterschool program funding sources. The webinar will also provide insight into the national discussion around expanded learning opportunities and extended learning time.
After the webinar, @YEFInstitute and @afterschool4all will keep the #OSTPolicy discussion going on Twitter, where other city leaders will be tweeting questions and comments about federal afterschool policy proposals. Join us by using the #OSTPolicy hashtag.
Join us on Thurs., May 9 at 2 p.m. EDT as we discuss the role that afterschool programs can play in addressing youth violence.
According to a nationally-representative survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 3 high school youth reported being in a physical fight within a 12 month period, and 1 in 6 high school youth reported carrying a weapon on one or more days within a 30 day period. These alarming statistics underscore the need for quality afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families. Providing an outlet for positive self-expression, access to caring adult mentors, and a community of supportive peers has been proven to be a winning formula for curbing aggressive behavior and empowering youth to be agents of change in their communities.
This webinar will highlight specific violence prevention strategies and federal funding streams for afterschool programs engaging in this work. Carleen Wray, executive director of the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), will discuss how to empower youth to make their schools and communities safer through crime prevention tactics, conflict management and service projects. Ben Forman, executive director of Teens Run DC, will also discuss how the combination of mentoring and a distance running program encourages positive youth behaviors by helping them work toward personal goals.