I am finishing up my second year as the district technology integrator for a k-12 district in New Hampshire. I am responsible for inspiring teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum, and to provide guidance and direction in the creation of a 21st century learning environment in each of our 5 schools. We have made great strides in two years, but we have a long way to go. Some days I wonder if I’ve really made a difference.
Right now I am working with 8th graders on ICT portfolio projects-trying to engage and inspire 140 fourteen year olds who are very done with Middle School and ready to move on to High School. This year students are working from a wiki and are creating web2.0 projects; they are creating Prezi’s, glogs, animotos, blogs, wikis and movies-to share with their peers, their families and the world. Their projects will demonstrate New Hampshire’s ICT standards, as well as demonstrate some minimum standards they have set for themselves:”make it your own,” “make it unique,” “take pride in your work.” They are taking the whole business of demonstrating ICT proficiency very seriously-wanting to learn how to embed video, download music, search for images using creative commons, and adding links to bibliography resources on the wiki. Put a laptop in front of them, give them a real project with a real purpose, and they are all business.
It amazes me that as the year is winding down, and projects are wrapping up, these students are working as hard as they have all year. Why? Because it is important to them that their high school teachers know what they can do, and that they are tech savvy. It is important for them to prove they can use technology responsibly so they can perhaps one day bring in their laptops and smart phones from home to school to help them learn. It is important that they prove they can care for laptops and use resources respectfully. It is important that we listen to them when they say that social networks can help them reach out to make a difference in the world. The world is changing-their world is changing and we can help them make a difference. It is the end of a school year, but the learning will continue throughout the summer. If we are smart-we will learn from them.