Presented by the Technology Learning Network and National Affiliate branches of NSBA, today’s session on harnessing the power of technology reflected the kind of learning environment schools must offer in the 21st century: collaborative, interactive, and relevant.
“What is innovation?” asked K. David Weidner, a former district administrator, teacher, and now education consultant who led the afternoon workshop, using questions to drive discussion among the group of mostly school board members.
New ground, great ideas, said a few audience members.
“Do we oftentimes think that innovative things are novel?” Weidner probed. “But does innovation have to be new?”
After receiving several nods from the audience, Weidner asked whether technology was working in their district, if it was new, and what made it exciting.
One board member from Fort Washington, Wis., talked about her district’s use of Project Lead the Way, which works with middle and high schools to boost student interest in STEM subjects by training teachers and providing curriculum to schools.
“It’s exciting to watch the students using technology, watching 21st century skills in action,” she said.
Another board member from Arkansas this time, talked about how her small, rural district had been able to secure grant monies to fund its one-to-one computing program.
“We’re changing from a traditional way of learning to a more problem-based learning model,” she said.
Yet another audience member talked about how his district’s high school English department used iPod Touches to teach Romeo in Juliet in high school.
“They download different narrative versions of it, taking exams on the iPod Touch,” he said. “The kids are excited about it, and it’s tough to get kids excited about Shakespeare.”
According to the Horizon Report 2010, which reports on education technology trends, Weidner says collaborative-learning environments and cloud computing like Google Docs will become widely used practices in schools, while mobile phones and educational gaming will be more prevalent in two to three years.
“Technology is increasingly a means for empowering students and continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate, and succeed,” Weidner said. “The way we think of learning environments is changing.”