21st Century Skills
As the Ellensburg School District plans for technology changes, we are ensuring that adding technology for users also best supports teacher and student needs. The biggest factor in our decision making process regarding technology is increasing student access to and ownership of technology. In the global environment, where technology continues to significantly change the normal course of business and education, students need proficiency in digital, visual, informational, and textual literacy in order to be active participants of the 21st century.
An important decision made was to go with Google Apps for Education as our online, collaborative work suite. By choosing Google, it helped guide our decision toward devices both on the back end and front end user devices. Google Apps for Education will allow our students to access their files anywhere, collaborate in real time and integrate highly effective learning strategies such as writer’s workshop. One of the cost benefits to choosing Google Apps is that it allows us to best utilize Chromebooks, which are the cheaper device option for schools.
Critical thinking is essential for students to be productive during and after school. Regarding technology, the plan is to utilize technology to get students creating content. Further, technology gives students the opportunity to work in project based, collaborative settings. The goal is for students to have a deep understanding of content, so they will internalize the content. Using technology to encourage creation, adaptation, evaluation, and analysis of content, students will be able to best learn the material.
Creative thinking is not just for the arts. Using digital tools gives students the freedom to develop their knowledge base in an environment conducive to learning, but one that encourages exploration and creativity. With technological tools, students are able to manipulate, construct, and develop ideas in a safe and evaluative manner. We believe that everyone has incredible creative thinking capacities and that technology provides multiple avenues to develop and harness creative thinking.
Digital communication is growing quickly. Often digital communication is dismissed as something used only for non-educational opportunities, but this should not be the case. In our global community, it is more essential than ever to practice proper digital communication skills. Our goal is to have our students graduate with a clear grasp on what proper and professional communication looks like in the digital age.
Information & Media Literacy
The benefit to using the internet as an educational resource is that there is nearly an infinite amount of content available for use. With this benefit also comes the difficulty in narrowing the information into manageable pieces. Our goal is to provide tools that not only assist in this method, but to work with teachers to ensure that students understand the complexity of critical thinking in the digital age.
Many adults incorrectly assume students are "technology-savvy". The reality is that what makes students more technology savvy has more to do with their willingness to try something new. This willingness, however, does not always come with best practices or even responsible practices. A big piece of utilizing technology in an educational setting will be teaching our students and staff the proper use of technology in order to improve their education. This includes learning proper computer use, proper typing use, and proper internet usage.