OLYMPIA - Today's young people have grown up in a society that revolves around technology.
Want to talk? Send them a text message on their cell phone.
Want to see who their friends are? Visit Facebook.
Want to remove photos from your digital camera and fix that annoying printer error on your computer? Give them about five minutes, and they’ll probably be able to figure out and explain everything to you.
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Their teen years are so much different from those of their parents and grandparents, and that’s why students in Capital High School’s Generation Tech class are exploring ways to change their learning experiences, too.
For example, several of the students have begun serving as “technology mentors” at the school, helping teachers and other staff members become more tech-savvy, according to Career and Technical Education instructor Scott Le Duc.
“Education is not going to change fast enough for anyone,” he said. “The only way it’s going to change is if students become the co-authors of the learning experience.”
According to junior Michael Kim, 16, the students’ goal is to help move classroom learning away from the traditional lectures, textbooks, pens and paper.
“We’re just a bunch of kids who feel like technology should be incorporated more in a classroom setting so that kids can feel more connected to the education system,” he said. “We know our way around technology. We know how to use it.”
In Le Duc’s class, instead of taking notes with pens and paper, students maintain blogs about their daily activities and experiences. Rather than listen to him lecture in front of the classroom, the students take turns leading discussions and presenting their own take on lessons on a Smart Board.
In addition, they use wireless clickers to answer quiz questions, study with a computer program that turns major points of a lesson into a video game and communicate with one another and Le Duc through social media.
“We aren’t just given the tools; we’re given the resources to go above and beyond what he has taught,” said junior Felix Russell, 17. “It’s a great class.”
Students also are asked to build a website they can use as part of their high school culminating project and professional portfolio – something they’ll be able to maintain as long as they want after graduation.
Russell said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“It won’t just be a standard boilerplate blog that you add entries to,” he said. “It will actually be our own code.”
On a recent afternoon, senior Jackson Burgess, 17, gave a presentation about computer security and risks. To help explain the concept of hacking, he displayed a slide of a humorous “No Trespassing” sign on the Smart Board.
“Hacking can be a form of electronic trespassing,” he told the class.
From there, his classmates began sharing examples they knew about hacking, identity theft and how people should protect their Social Security numbers, debit card PINs and other electronic privacy issues.
“Generation Tech is a good class, and it teaches you about how technology is incorporated into your daily life and how it affects the world around you,” Kim said.
Although students have access to some of the newest high-tech bells and whistles in their classroom laboratory, much of their growth is taking place outside the class, where students are serving as information resources for others, helping to locate computer support and projects for their teachers and peers, Le Duc said.
“They blow my mind; this group of young people is just awesome,” he said. “They want to see school change, and they’re making it happen.”
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 email@example.com