New high school students started off the year with “1:1 Think Big About Learning” technology orientation program. It was a two-part event that students started at home prior to a two-hour session on campus the day before classes began. All the logistical components (installing software, check log in, download apps, setup Google Drive) students were able to complete at their own pace by going through a short online course in Blackboard. This meant we could use the face-to-face session to have students interact and engage with each other about the HS Acceptable Use Agreement (AUA) and what it means to be a good digital citizen.
Thanks to the input of some of last years’ students we developed eight ‘scenarios’ that reflected real situations students are likely to face in school—some were actually adaptations from students own experiences in the previous year. Students worked in self selected groups of about eight, each group had one laptop, chart paper and materials to use however they decided. They also had Student Ambassador helpers who were on hand to encourage them and bounce ideas around. The group challenge included deciding how their scenario related to the AUA, problem-solving and exploring strategies for dealing with it, and finally coming up with a way to present their work. (We saw slide shows, rap songs, skits & posters.) The finale of the event was when we drew random table numbers out of a hat to decide who presented. (We had about 170 students.) The random draw had two effects; firstly it compelled all groups to complete the challenge—as they all would potentially be asked to perform. Secondly, it created anticipation and energy. As we made each draw the room erupted in laughs and cheers, adding to the atmosphere and fun.
Rather than making them sit through a passive ‘lecture style’ presentation of material we set out to create a student-centered program to kick-start students’ thinking about learning in a technology-rich school. We did this because we trust that the conversations about learning with technology will be revisited in classes, in different events and other programs throughout the school year. We are aiming for an ongoing discussion with high school students about using technology for learning, about protecting digital identities, about using resources appropriately, and about make healthy choices with the technology that is pervasive in our lives and at our finger tips. (Glenda Baker, HS Instructional Technology Coach)