Student Centricity and Better Teaching Through Technology

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The Learning Counsel is a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.  The organization has events in about 30 cities per year, meeting with districts and sharing what works. In each of these events, there are panel discussions with local district leaders where successful digital strategies are discussed. Recently, at an event in San Jose, a panel was convened to discuss a refocus on student centricity and better teaching through technology. The following is a small excerpt of that discussion.

Dhanya Unni is the Manager of Student Information Systems at the San Mateo County Office of Education and serves 23 school districts and more than 94,000 students. Her district’s focus on student centricity includes a focus on the use of technology to help special education students as well as students with disabilities. Unni says technology gives the her district the ability to individualize learning for these students, an opportunity that was previously lacking.

Brian Schum, the Coordinator of Instruction & Technology Integration at Lammersville United School District says technology helps offer as many choices as possible. “We tend to leave a lot of students behind,” said Schum. “Just being able to reach the students where they are, there is a lot of equity in that, being able to reach a much greater audience. In Lammersville, we’ve offered an online and hybrid system, so students have choice. If it works for you, you can take all your classes online. Some students want the traditional high school experience, but they don’t want to go to every single class. Some classes you may want to take at your own pace on line. Some you may want to take at the high school with a teacher and a physical setting. It’s all about mixing and choosing what is going to work best for you.” Shum says that students still can have all the traditional benefits like attending prom and participating in high school sports. It is a great alternative to homeschool, where students may be missing out on those opportunities. It is also helping the community reconsider the role of schools.

Kami Thordarson is the Director of Innovation and Digital Learning at Campbell Union High School District. The district is having conversations about what learning really looks like. “When we walk into classrooms, most of what we see is compliance and not really engagement or empowerment even,” said Thordarson. “We need our students to know who they are as learners and we need them to be empowered so they know how they learn best, where they learn best and how to sift through the multitude of information that is available to them now. That is what is going to pay off for our kids. It isn’t just about giving them content anymore. The soft skills are so much more important.”

This is just a snippet of the information you’ll hear. Click on the video below to watch the full panel discussion. See what districts are doing today that you can do in your own district tomorrow.

 

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