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Top 7 edtech posts for education leaders

By Jennifer Snelling
December 21, 2016
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Student-driven learning isn’t just good for students. When we give students control of how they learn, when they learn and even what they learn, they become more passionate and engaged, which drives innovation and achievement. And that’s good for everyone. But as a leader, how do you foster student-driven learning? Take a look at the top EdTekHub leadership posts from 2016 to get inspiring ideas like how to set up a student-run genius bar or how to organize a participant-led edcamp for your school or district. When you empower students and staff, meaningful change will follow.

1.  7 things every educator should know about digital equity

“A lack of digital access is a lack of access to education period,” said Terry Godwaldt, director of programming at The Center for Global Education in Canada, in an interview with ISTE’s entrsekt magazine. But digital equity is easier to define than it is to solve. It’s about making sure students have equal access to technology, including devices, apps and a reliable internet connection. They also need trained educators to help them use tools effectively and responsibly.

2. Personalized vs. differentiated vs. individualized learning

The terms personalized, differentiated and individualized learning are often used interchangeably, but what do they really mean? Authors Dale Basye and Peggy Grant, co-authors of the ISTE/Intel Education book Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology, clarify the differences between the terms and demystify the approaches to help educators initiate more effective learning techniques. Additionally, the authors show how technology, when used with intention, can help educators deliver differentiated, individualized and personalized instruction.

3. Student-run genius bar: The facilitator’s guide

Modeled after Apple’s Genius Bar, the Burlington High School help desk in Massachusetts plays an integral role in the school’s technology-rich learning environment. Student geniuses earn credit for real-world experience offering help to the district’s IT department. Listen as Jennifer Scheffer, the help desk facilitator, describes the program in her ISTE Ignite talk.

4. Schools have no choice but to personalize learning

According to Common Sense Media, teens spend most of their time outside of school consuming media. “In those hours, they choose what they will learn, how they will learn and from whom they will learn,” says author Nancy Weinstein, founder and CEO of Mindprint Learning. Weinstein argues it’s imperative that schools embrace technology to make education work for all students. Otherwise, we are facing a monumental failure to engage students. In fact, the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students describe the Empowered Learner as someone who “leverages technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in her learning goals.”

5. School leaders who master social media reap huge benefits

Educators and parents have long looked at social media with caution, a potential danger for students. Given that Digital Learner, which is Standard 2 of the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students, is one of the most important things we can teach students, why not incorporate social media into learning and teaching? Incorporating digital citizenship into the fabric of our curricula allows us to use social media for good. Some of the benefits include allowing schools to tell their own stories of their successes instead of waiting for traditional media to do so and helping students get a head start in a future careers with a positive digital footprint.

6. Make kids crave school by breaking all the rules

Author and teacher Pernille Ripp was ready to quit the profession a few years ago. The traditional approach to education was failing her, and most importantly, it was not inspiring her students. So Ripp decided to rebuild her classroom environment. She asked herself, “What if students had no homework or grades and could show mastery in many different ways?” That put her on a path to transforming her classroom. “School should be a place where children thrive, not survive. Be the change. Give the classroom back to your students.” Watch Ripp’s powerful ISTE 2015 Ignite talk.  

7. Organize an edcamp for your district

If your staff is less than enthusiastic about professional training, it may be time to send them to edcamp. In 2012, Wappingers Central School District in New York decided to make professional learning days as collaborative and engaging as possible. The solution was edcamp, organic, participant-driven professional learning experiences created by teachers, for teachers. In a nutshell, edcamps are teachers teaching each other what they know. Read this article to learn how to organize an edcamp for your district.

No matter where you are on the path to technology integration, you'll encounter challenges and decision points at every step. The ISTE Lead & Transform Diagnostic Tool offers education leaders a starting point for making the transition to a technology-rich and standards-ready learning environment.