The last few years has seen tremendous changes in the educational landscape and technology has been at the epicenter of most of that movement. There are more schools today that have laptops or tablets in the hands of their students. Many schools have been able to move to a completely 1:1 initiative and some states, led by Maine have done this throughout the entire state. The initial reaction to this would be that it will have an entirely positive impact, but is that really the case. Are all educators, schools and districts embracing this shift and preparing themselves properly to be sure that if technology is in the hands of their students, are they utilizing it properly and effectively.
With this infusion of technology, their must be changes in pedagogy and terms like Blending Learning and Flipped classroom are often heard. What exactly does that mean and who is doing it well. I must tip my hat to my friends at the Highlander Institute and all of the ground breaking work they are doing with teachers throughout the state, known as #FuseFellows. These teachers and administrators are being trained on cutting edge Blended learning strategies and techniques and then taking that knowledge back to districts throughout the state and sharing this knowledge with their colleagues to help support our statewide growth towards fully embracing and implementing the opportunities that technology and a blended learning approach offers our students.
This past year we saw our state, under the leadership of Governor Raimondo, fully embrace a movement toward computer science for all, a initiative known at #CS4RI. The goal of this initiative is to see every high school offer computer science by December of 2017. The statistics show that there are plenty of jobs out there in the field of computer science, but not enough qualified talent. The goals of this initiative are admirable and we are hopeful as a state to get there. One of the biggest underlying issues that comes along with is not only producing the talent, through computer science instruction, it is properly preparing the teachers to be able to teach the computer science courses. The state through the Office of Innovation has designed a planned and rolled out a number of unique offerings and opportunities and our higher educational institutions will be called on to join in this effort.
Finally, our students, know as Generation Z, also know as Digital Natives, have been growing up with technology all around them, in their hands or at their finger tips. What are we doing as educators to embrace this reality, or are we still just saying no, shutting off access, or making students turn off and put away their technology upon entry to our schools or classrooms. I would argue that we can no longer, as educators ignore that technology must become part of the instructional process in our schools. I would also point out that terms like Digital Citizens and Digital Footprint need to become part of our vocabulary and we need to both understand them and implement plans to address them. In today's times all students must be taught what it means to be a digital citizen and how they need to be aware of and positively design their digital footprint. Once again statistics show that colleges and careers are looking and through their digital footprint, students are making a first impression, whether they like it or not. Let's help them to make sure that it is a positive first impression.
Join us Sunday night at 8 PM on #EdChatRI as we kick off our 2016-17 school year with this very important conversation that is impacting all of us.
Don Miller -