Students co-author the learning experience

It’s so great to have a string of stories about the positive impact of student technology teams in schools.

It’s tech time at Capital High – Generation Tech lets students become ‘co-authors of learning experience’

The Olympia School District was where Generation YES founder Dr. Dennis Harper settled in about 1990 after working around the world to bring computers to schools in countries from Africa to Afghanistan. He became the technology director and found a school district that wanted to be first class in technology, but had little to start with. He dug in and got started by involving students in every aspect of the district technology – from planning, to getting out the vote for a technology bond, to putting up a district website when no one even knew what that was.

One of the teachers he immediately started to work with was Scott LeDuc at Capital High School. Today Scott is still at Capital, still working with students to make “student-centered learning” a reality. This article profiles Scott and his students who work every day to make education better.

Today’s young people have grown up in a society that revolves around technology.

Want to talk? Send them a text message on their cell phone.

Want to see who their friends are? Visit Facebook.

Want to remove photos from your digital camera and fix that annoying printer error on your computer? Give them about five minutes, and they’ll probably be able to figure out and explain everything to you.

Their teen years are so much different from those of their parents and grandparents, and that’s why students in Capital High School’s Generation Tech class are exploring ways to change their learning experiences, too.

For example, several of the students have begun serving as “technology mentors” at the school, helping teachers and other staff members become more tech-savvy, according to Career and Technical Education instructor Scott Le Duc.

“Education is not going to change fast enough for anyone,” he said. “The only way it’s going to change is if students become the co-authors of the learning experience.”

Read this article – it’s not about technology, it’s about life-long learning…

Although students have access to some of the newest high-tech bells and whistles in their classroom laboratory, much of their growth is taking place outside the class, where students are serving as information resources for others, helping to locate computer support and projects for their teachers and peers, Le Duc said.

“They blow my mind; this group of young people is just awesome,” he said. “They want to see school change, and they’re making it happen.”

Scott authored the GenYES curriculum units on student tech support based on his experiences at Capital High School and years of teaching students how to “learn how to learn” by fixing real problems. Students don’t learn by being talked at – they learn by tackling challenging problems and issues that are meaningful and DOING something about them. And of course, teachers amplify the learning when they guide students through these types of experiences with expertise.

As one of the commenters on the article said – WAY TO GO, COUGARS!


Back to school – what tech vision will you share?

Back to School time! How did this happen so quickly…

One thing that parents are faced with every fall is the giant packet. Everything you need to know, sign, and send back with checks attached as school starts. In the giant packet is the schools Acceptable Use Policy, known as the AUP to most techie educators. To parents, of course, it’s known as paper 23 of 42, likely to be ignored. To make sure that even diligent parents ignore it, schools create AUPs full of dense legalese, hoping that if anything bad happens, they are “covered.” Whatever that means.

When you see a principal on the news explaining why his school is suspected to be the center of a huge student porn network, does he ever hold up the AUP and say, “but we’re covered!” No, of course not. So why do schools believe that the AUP really does any good at all? And why, oh why do we send this out without a shred of explanation about the GOOD that we expect from students using technology?

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be policy in place, and that these policies shouldn’t be communicated. Of course they should. But why send something home guaranteed to intimidate, or worse, bore parents?

I’ve written about this before (What message does your AUP send home?)

I truly believe that EVERYTHING we do sends a message. It’s important to take a step back and try to put yourself in parent’s shoes for a moment and read the AUP from that perspective. In most AUPs, there is not a shred of positive vision for what “Use” means. They should be called UUPs, or Unacceptable Use & Punishments.

Where is your vision shared? How do you communicate with parents and students about your hopes and dreams for technology? If this is your one chance, and you have to send out the AUP anyway, why not rewrite it so it reads like a vision instead of a promise of punishment? At least add a cover letter to it!

Sure, parents will flip through the packet and might not read it. But then again, it’s your one chance – why not take it?


Thinking about revising your AUP? Visit David Warlick’s wiki School AUP 2.0 for links and an RSS feed to many schools with visionary AUPs.