• Increase relevance of education to students • Offer students leadership opportunities • Improve technology integration school-wide • Teach students 21st century skills • Build respect and trust among all groups By engaging students in meaningful dialog about technology use, Internet safety, online learning, filtering, and what learning means in the 21st century, we not only gain their insight and experience, but we show students how their education is relevant for the world today. Students in today’s schools enter a different world than that of their parents.“Twenty-first century skills” have come to mean skills beyond traditional core subject areas including: • Learning and thinking skills such as problem solving, creativity, and collaboration • Civic, cultural and global awareness • Life skills such as ethics and leadership • Technology, digital citizenship, information and media literacy All these things are interrelated. For example, we miss a huge opportunity when we present “digital citizenship” as an out-of-context list of things students shouldn’t do.The word citizenship is a clue — it’s about belonging and contributing to a community, not about threats. As a citizen, being engaged in the community is a two-way street — the benefits and responsibilities should be balanced.
Engagement is an Outcome of Meaningful Work You often hear people talk about how technology is so engaging for kids. But that misses the point. It’s not the technology that’s engaging, it’s the opportunity to use powerful technology to create and communicate something that is valued by the community and by yourself.Yes, a new device can be entertaining for a while, but when the novelty value wears off, what are you left with? Engagement is not a goal; it’s an outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work — meaningful to themselves and to the community, both in and out of school. It is meaningful because someone trusted them to do something good and they shouldered the responsibility. Engagement is not something you do to kids or you give kids, it’s the outcome of this cycle of experiences. Engaging students as citizen participants in the life of the school is educational, empowering and productive.To truly engage students, they must be seen as agents of change rather than objects to be changed. Student involvement in technology can be beneficial for students, staff and the community. However, it needs to be carefully planned and guided to maximize the educational benefits to students and avoid simply using students as free labor. Based on our 15 year track record of working with K-12 schools around the world, Generation YES advocates four models that balance the benefits of service learning and student leadership with the needs of schools.
see STUDENT ADVOCATES page 96
SouthEast Education Network FALL 2013
Southeast Education Network issue 15.2