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

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One thought on “A Student Voice in K12 Technology Planning”

  1. I think that you’re dead on with your planning, Mark. Technologically, students no longer enter the classroom as clean slates. Technology is infused into their lives and their lifestyles. Not only should they be welcome, they should be demanding on a system to provide them with the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to make them better users of their technology.

    This summer, we had David Warlick work with our Director and Superintendents and we invited three elementary students and two secondary students to join the panel. We actually had them in a plenary session with Mr. Warlick in the morning where they were taking notes along with the teachers about the opportunities that being connected offers. Then, in the afternoon, they were on the firing line as we asked them some very pointed questions about their experiences, their impressions of the system, their desires and wishes. They were very eloquent and spoke with a voice that resonated through the room and you could tell that they were speaking for all youth.

    You’re on a good track and you’ll get so many insights and much value from the experience. Stay the course.

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