Matt Prusiecki is superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township in Indiana.
As we continue to embark through the Information Age, technology in the classroom is becoming increasingly more prominent. A study conducted by MidAmerica Nazarene University found that 82% of surveyed teachers believe technology enhances learning — helping develop technological skills and critical thinking that will better prepare students to enter the workforce.
The widespread adoption of technology demands educators to capitalize on opportunities to implement new strategies that will meet the needs of both students and industries today. This means leveraging today’s most functional tools and resources district-wide to expand learning and career opportunities in a variety of ways.
Education no longer has to be confined to the brick and mortar walls of a classroom; learning can take place anywhere and at any time if a student has access to the internet. Although roughly 5 million households with school-age children don’t have access to broadband internet, schools now have a very specific resource that combats this digital divide: personal hotspots.
Personal hotspots serve as mobile Wi-Fi devices that can connect to a provided cellular network and grant students internet access outside of the classroom and campus. By providing equal access to online learning through personal hotspots, students and educators have the ability to connect at all times — dramatically expanding their learning capabilities. Once all students are given equal access to internet and online services, the digital divide begins to dissolve, leveling the playing field for all.
Creative learning spaces
With the evolution of technology, traditional classrooms often fall short as they are not equipped to support today’s desired learning experiences. To stay aligned with innovative curriculums, school districts can invest in creative learning spaces that effectively support modern day learning and encourage collaboration, communication and creative thinking.
To maximize learning potential, classrooms should create an environment in which each student feels comfortable in. Studies show that more enclosed spaces lead to an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. Therefore, replicating an open lab concept can provide students a comfortable environment for their learning endeavors, while also having the capacity to host presentations and class-driven instruction.
Leveraging technology excites students and increases engagement, which can increase students’ performance in the long run. These innovative spaces can also house advanced technology such as interactive Promethean boards, 3D printers, computer programming labs and more technologies that help students develop better computer, problem-solving and design thinking skills.
In this day and age, employers are interested in more than just resumes — they seek concrete evidence of previous work. Virtual portfolios serve as tremendous tools for students in the 21st century as they offer students evidence of their learning journey while expanding a meaningful academic social network and building a professional business image all within one comprehensive cloud-native software package.
Whether students decide to continue their education or enter the workforce after graduation, students can easily access their virtual portfolio to showcases their abilities, previous work and personal characteristics to employers or admission counselors. By offering students a virtual portfolio, you provide them a competitive edge post-graduation that allows them to continuously collect, develop and showcase their abilities and skills wherever they go.