A Student Voice in K12 Technology Planning

During the 08/09 school year we moved to a new technology planning model. In our old structure we had separate groups to look at administrative and instructional needs. The plans and considerations produced by the two groups did not align and reflected needs and priorities that were often competing. This certainly did not make it easy get projects defined and moving.

The new structure introduces reflects a more integrated team approach, with members representing administrative business areas, elementary and secondary school principals, ICT consultants, learning services members HR and key ITS staff – 13 members in all. We have also adopted a new governance model to prepare and determine priorities at the system levels.

We wanted to add a component to this new structure to include a student voice. Last April we held our first student technology day. The format of the day included teachers and students from a sampling of our secondary schools. The computer contact teacher at each school brought 3 to 5 students with them so that the students outnumbered the adults. We also asked the teachers to select students to reflect male/female balance and a mix of grades.

We set the afternoon up to have discussion on two topics with feedback time from each group. The first discussion topic centred around digital citizenship. The second topic was positioned as a task. We asked students this question: If you could change 2 or 3 things about technology use in our system, what would you change? and why?

I was impressed with the quality of ideas and mature approach in which the students expressed their ideas. The students sent a very clear message about how they felt things should move forward. They recommended:

  • have wireless access in all schools
  • have the ability to use their own equipment in our computing environment
  • make use of cell phones/smart phones as part of the learning environment
  • have access to their files from home

This exercise was a good validation of the discussions of the Technology Steering Committee and you will see project reflecting these needs in our 09/10 project list priorities.

Now I am considering how best to keep a student voice in this process this year and communicate the outcome of last year’s efforts. I would be interested to hear from other people about the approach used in your Boards/jurisdictions so feel free to leave a comment, send a tweet, email or URL.

~ Mark