Monday, May 4, 2009

Through a Kid's Eyes

About two months ago 14 students from four diverse Pennsylvania high schools were given the task of considering what they thought 21st century high school education should become.

They initially met in early March, established two teams each consisting of members from each of the four schools, and laid the groundwork for their projects. Since that time, they have worked collaboratively using cell phones and the Internet to research the current state of US education, to generate ideas as to where high schools should be going, and to suggest potential ways to make American students more globally competitive.

Today, the kids all came together once again to present their projects to an audience of teachers, administrators, and a PDE official. Each team presented its case for reshaping 21st century education and responded to questions from the observers related to the content of their presentation. In conclusion, the entire group of students engaged in a less formal Q&A with the audience that engaged the students in discussion both of the content and the process of their projects.

All in all, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness, the scope, and the insights demonstrated by these kids. The product was theirs and theirs alone. We, as their faculty advisers, kept "hands off" their work. We provided only technical and logistical support.

When the full body of their work is consolidated I hope to be able to present more of their conclusions, but I will summarize some of the more salient points.

  • Students feel that the technology they use in school is too limited.
  • Schools should leverage technology to provide students with a wider range of experiences.
  • Students should spend less time physically in a classroom with greater opportunity for online access to educational opportunities.
  • Students should have the chance to use personal laptops and other devices in the school setting with a higher level of trust.
  • Some way should be established to help kids with a genuine need and their families afford a personal laptop and internet access.
  • Schools should provide full access to coursework, teaching, and testing outside the traditional classroom.
  • The cost of providing technology should be lessened through increased use of free and open-source software.
  • All of the students involved indicated they would be willing to do coursework on their own time if they had the opportunity.
In my opinion, these kids all did a commendable job. Further, I think they learned some invaluable life-lessons about working with people you don't really know in a collaborative situation.

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1 comment:

Mr. G said...

Absolutely inspiring! This process truly develops leadership and habits to sustain learning from our most important stakeholders...our students.

What were some of the challenges faced? What did the educators learn from this that challenged previous beliefs?

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