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Powering Up Student Learning

posted: 4.1.09 by Traci Gardner

Today’s print edition of Education Week publishes a story posted online last week: “Students See Schools Inhibiting Their Use of New Technologies.” The article describes the findings of the Speak Up National Research Project, which were released during a Congressional Briefing last week.

K–12 students reported in a Speak Up survey completed last fall that they are “generally asked to ‘power down’ at school and abandon the electronic resources they rely on for learning outside of class.”

That’s right. Within weeks of NCTE’s publication of Writing in the 21st Century, a survey of 1.3 million students tells us that not only are many students infrequently taught 21st century literacy skills but they are typically denied the opportunity to tap the out-of-school literacy skills that they bring to the classroom.

Sure, college classrooms often have wider access to technology and more tolerance for digital tools in the classroom. Still, I wonder how often students end up “powering down” just when they could gain the most from using the 21st century gadgets they have with them.

For the sake of argument, consider that Ed Week article again, and let’s say you have a group of colleagues or graduate students you’d like to share it with. Those of us who have the luxury of powering up when and where we want to can get to the article online a full week before those consigned to leave technology outside the classroom door.

Not quite the same situation that students face, but the point stands. When students are asked to “power down” as they enter the classroom, they are leaving critical thinking tools behind. So here’s a challenge: ask the students you teach two questions:

  1. What technology would you use now in this classroom that you do not currently?
  2. How and why would it make a difference to your work?

Their answers have the potential to revolutionize the classroom, and all it may take is powering up the technology they bring with them to make powerful changes in their learning.

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Categories: Student Success, Teaching with Technology
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