Guest blog post by Sue Hanson, PR with Panache!
Classroom technology looks and feels a lot different today than it did 20 or even 10 years ago. However, as adults we are charged with educating young people growing up in a very different world than we did. So how do we keep up? There is no better way to get answers than to simply ask our youth and engage them in meaningful conversations. Over one lunch hour at ISTE 2015, PR with Panache! hosted a “Youth Voice” panel to do just that--ask the hard questions.
During “Youth Voice and Perspective Regarding EdTech," attendees saw four students from all corners of the country come together to engage each other and the audience in an impactful conversation around today’s $64,000 questions: Is EdTech effective for students? What could be done to make the experience better? What works, and what doesn’t?
These four panelists, ranging from 12-17 in age, commented on the changing EdTech landscape, focusing on their personal experiences. They captivated the 75 plus adults in the audience and kicked off some very colorful conversation on twitter around what it is really like to be a 21st century learner. While some of their answers were surprising, others were to be expected.
As the old saying goes, knowledge comes with age, but according to our panelists that is only partially true. One panelist recommended and encouraged teachers to take advantage of professional development around software, tools, and technologies before implementing them in the classroom. They also suggested that teachers should be more willing to take risks with technology because they have a classroom full of tech savvy students to help them. The panelists acknowledged that it “sounds so boring, going to a class on technology,” but encouraged teachers to take the plunge so they can get “fresh, new ideas.”
At the same time, even though the students realize technology is crucial to the shift in education, they crave more face-to-face interaction with their peers and their teachers. They believe with more professional development teachers will be able to find the perfect balance of screen, small group, and direct instruction time.
While each of our panelists use technology in one way or another, there certainly was not a consensus as to how and what technology was being used in their classrooms. While one panelist has access to technology daily through her school’s 1:1 initiative, another shared that he gets time in the computer lab maybe once a week. The machines are so slow, though, he preferred to use his own laptop. They acknowledged the push for 1:1 and BYOD can predict a future where technology can and will be the ultimate equalizer with the goal to effectively “level the playing field regardless of socio-economic status.”
The panelists were not able to provide a timeline, but believe technology will essentially close the equity gap separating privileged children from excelling faster than those considered disadvantaged.
It was refreshing and amazing to see young people have such a strong grasp on the big picture and the world around them. Our hope is that the youth voice continues to be heard, continues to be shared and that they will hopefully help shape the future of education.
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, PR with Panache! specializes in working with businesses that serve the K-12 education market. We are recognized throughout the industry for our dedication, enthusiasm and ability to position companies as leaders in their categories.