Technology’s Focus on the Student: More of What You Want in Teaching and Learning

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Seattle is an area of innovation, and its area schools and districts are no exception. At a recent Learning Counsel event there, the panel discussion produced a lively discussion with focus on the leaner in the digital transition. Find out what they are doing in the great Northwest to leverage technology to make learning more accessible and more effective. The discussion may surprise you, and you will definitely get some new ideas from the panelists.

The discussion began with the question of how technology can aid in renewing the focus on the student.

“It’s not so much the why as the why not,” said Dr. Jennifer Lamkins, Director of Technology at the Lakeside School in Seattle. “We’ve always had that desire to be centered on the student. It’s just a matter of coming up with a way to meet all students. The beauty of technology is how it allows you to teach the way you always knew you should be teaching. It can get rid of all those tasks that we give to teachers every day, that we have to measure every day. Technology can take care of the tedium and the time-consuming tasks that keep you from being a teacher and keep the students from showing you how they learn in their way.”

Bob Ettinger is the Director of Digital Learning at the Renton School District. When asked about a focus on student learning, he said, “Hopefully this isn’t a fundamentally new goal of this digital transition. The digital transition gives us additional tools to do what we have all been in service of, which is thrilling, relevant, high quality learning. One of the things we have been doing is leading sessions on providing students more choice over their learning. That can be very powerful. One of the ways we have been framing it is ‘choice of input and choice of output.’ We’re engaging a staff community at a school to learn about student choice while giving them choice in how to learn about it. They can learn more about the topic while experiencing what it feels like to have choice.”

Rebekah Kim is the Executive Director for Teaching, Learning and Leadership at Highline Public Schools. She asked, “How do we look at a student and personalize the pathway, with or without technology? It is really student centered. It is helping students learn outside traditional teaching methods so that they are prepared with 21st century skills. We talk about preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist. How are we supposed to teach those skills?” Kim says we need to understand students and where they are and continue to be adaptive. “We want to make sure students have a foundation in digital citizenship, so that as they use technology for project-based and inquiry-based learning, they know how to navigate and differentiate between what’s real news and fake news in this political climate. That’s not something we experienced growing up. There is so much adaptation we need to understand that our students are currently experiencing in the outside world, as we are trying to engage them in learning these rigorous standards.”

As the discussion continued, each of the panelists detailed the work they were doing now to move the ball forward. It is a fascinating discussion, and full of actionable items you can take and use.

Click on the video below to view the discussion. You’ll find the discussion extremely useful and learn about things you can do immediately in your school or district to leverage technology and help your learners achieve.

 

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