Friday, December 01, 2006

Tomorrow's Leaders

If you are reading the ITM, chances are you are looking for new ideas and strategies for integrating technology in your school. While ITM bloggers and readers are excited to share tools and strategies we've discovered, I'd like suggest that you not leave untapped an important resource that's already an intregal part of your school --TOMORROW'S LEADERS.

Are you tapping into the your students as valuable resources? The National Education Technology Plan was developed with input from Student Voices. Ideas from students in Student Views on Tranforming Education and Training Through Technologies provide insights that a generation of "digital Immigrants" could not have envisioned on their own.

Why not include student input as you update your local technology plans? In his article "Vision to Action: Adding Student Leadership to Your Technology Plan", Dennis Harpers makes note that
"Students make up about 92% of people in attendance in any school. Most technology plans focus on the role of the other 8% (teachers, administrators, adult technical support staff).

It is no wonder that
“Students report that there is a substantial disconnect between how they use the Internet for school and how they use the Internet during the school day and under teacher direction. For the most part, students’ educational use of the Internet occurs outside of the school day, outside of the school building, outside the direction of their teachers.”' Pew Internet & American Life Project (2002).
The investment we made in our Student Technology Leadership Teams ten years ago have produced a return many times its original cost. Not only has the school benefitted from the services, ideas, and energy students brought as we developed solutions for maintaining growing networks of computers, training staff, and designing innovative ways to integrate technology, but students gained invaluable opportunities to develop leadership skills. Dennis Harper's Gen Yes includes several models for integrating student leaders in your schools. States such as Kansas, Wisconsin, and Kentucky have developed state-wide student tech leadership initiatives. No need to wait until your state develops a program, programs such as TechSavvyKids and SWAT started as local initiatives. Examining these models can help you find strategies for including student voices in your school.

Today's students are "The Infinite Thinking Machine" - let's provide them with the skills and the opportunities to develop into tomorrow's leaders.