Thursday, September 20, 2012

Engagement of Students Through the Use of Technology


Enthusiasm can be a game changer. This fact has never been lost on me, but was reinforced recently when I had the opportunity to attend a pep rally at Oconee County Elementary School with a few hundred students at 7:30 a.m. The band, cheerleaders, and football team from Oconee County High School were in attendance, as was head coach Mitch Olson, to pump up the students and remind them to be respectful, work hard, and achieve greatness in their academic pursuits.

As students departed their cars and buses, they entered OCES through a tunnel of high fives and cheers formed by the high school students. It was clear to all involved that these boys and girls were excited their high school friends were in the building. Smiles were big, enthusiasm high, and the school day was off to a great start!

What if every day started like this one?

No, I am not recommending that every morning begin with bands playing and cheerleaders cheering, but rather with excitement for learning and enthusiasm for the opportunities presented. How do we replicate this engaged environment? How do we connect with students and get them “pumped up” for learning? How do we make learning as relevant in their lives as the pep rally?

These questions are not new, but their answers remain essential to the work of educators. As our world continues to change at the speed of light, it is important that we adapt to meet our students were they are. One way Oconee County Schools is doing this is in the form of technology. Last week, all schools in our district became wireless. The availability to connect to the Internet anywhere we go has become an afterthought in the minds of many and a necessity in how we acquire and process information. Thus, the time had clearly come to upgrade our schools to have this capacity. This project was made possible by the ELOST dollars and we thank the community for the support of that necessary funding source.

Now, the question becomes: How do we use this valued resource to engage our students and capture their enthusiasm? Our high schools and middle schools have taken the first step by allowing students to bring their own devices and connect to the wireless world when appropriate. The capacity for engaged and enthusiastic learners that this one step can provide is endless. Yet, some are apprehensive about technology’s role. Thus, my question this week relates to your thoughts and/or concerns about technology.

How do you feel about students being allowed to bring their own technology to school?

Would you allow your student to bring his phone, tablet, or computer to school?

What concerns do you have?

I look forward to hearing your enthusiastic thoughts via email at jbranch@oconeeschools.org

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