Common Core as an Opportunity for Technology-Driven Youth Empowerment
This fall, most states will continue implementing Common Core State Standards (http://www.corestandards.org/) with the hope of improving educational outcomes for America’s students. Common Core has been called, “[W]hat may be the most far-reaching experiment in American educational history.” Educators, parents, elected officials and others are expressing strong opinions about the standards, ranging from strong support (from conservatives as well as progressives), to tentative approval, to regret and anger.
Luckily, there is at least one area of (relative) agreement around the standards: The emphasis on technology integration is crucial for student success. (For a comprehensive list of the technology-related Common Core standards, see this document from the Fresno County Office of Education.)
Support for educational technology is strong and growing, and it’s easy to see why. As educator Ashley Lauren Samsa writes in her recent Guardian post, “Being technologically competent is now considered a vital life skill, not to mention something today's students need if they are ever going to be employable.” However, Samsa reminds us, we must ensure that technology is used as a tool to power creativity and not merely a career prep mechanism.
One way to ensure technology is used to inspire, connect and encourage students is to empower students themselves to lead the way. There are plenty of websites and off-the-shelf solutions educators can use to integrate technology into standards-aligned curricula, which is key, but it is also important for teachers to cultivate student creativity and peer-to-peer learning (and student-to-teacher skill transferral) by allowing students to showcase their technology skills.
Today’s K-12 students were born into a connected world, and they have a fundamentally different relationship with technology than the majority of their teachers. In fact, research shows that they learn differently as a result of their technology immersion. Results from the Digital Youth Project and other innovative interventions underscore the importance of peer-to-peer learning for today’s students.
The Common Core standards are designed to develop the 21st century skills necessary to prepare students for college and career. These skills, the “3 Cs” of collaboration critical thinking and communication, are effectively developed through student-centered, technology-enabled learning.
Teachers can seize Common Core implementation as an opportunity to upend the “Sage on the Stage” model of teaching and democratize the learning process, making it more in line with the way today’s students learn—and, perhaps, even learning something themselves.
David Veneziano is the CFO and COO at ZeroDivide. He has more than 27 years of financial and operations experience in corporate banking, investing and nonprofit finance.
Photo copyright: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office.