This book is for educators, parents, and community partners!

Resources, ideas, examples, for both beginners and experts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Role Models for STEM Careers

How do Kids Learn about S.T.E.M. Careers?

Mostly young people learn about the possibilities for the future from role models in their environment. Until now, access to those role models have been limited to who they encounter in their own communities. With digital tools and social networking, there are no limits to the adults with interesting careers that kids can encounter right in their own classrooms.

So what issues in classrooms today prevent students from connecting to S.T.E.M. Careers?

The book, Connecting Students to STEM Careers, Social Networking Strategies, looks at critical issues such as lack of:
  • Access to technology
  • Teacher Training
  • Time
  • Administrative Support
  • Funding
  • Parental Support
Although there are serious consequences for leaving students behind in a world that is rapidly changing and evolving, there are numerous roadblocks to adopting, and adapting to, new tools and new strategies for teaching about and learning about the possibilities for careers in the S.T.E.M. fields.

This book provides suggestions for getting started and for enriching the groundwork that has already been laid out for engaging students in critical careers of the future. All of them will require deep knowledge and understanding in and of the digital world and what is to follow...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A New Year

Back to School

It's a new school year. Teachers all over the country are feeling the pressure: test scores, core curriculum, S.T.E.M. education, emerging technologies, over-crowded classrooms. There's scant opportunity for creativity in the same ways we understood teaching in the past.

For teachers who feel comfortable with, and are incorporating digital media into instruction, there are opportunities to use social media and other communications technologies to bring mentors into the classroom, to forge partnerships. Professionals in the arts and in STEM fields can help. They are willing to help. Visit the CILC website and find a long list of professionals who will work with your students to help foster creativity and innovation. (Click on the Content Provider Programs.) By using technologies on a regular basis, you are helping train students build to communication and collaboration skills.

On their own, students can use the Internet to conduct research and build information fluency. According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) NETS for students, (National Education Technology Standards), students who can apply digital tools to "gather, evaluate, and use information" are more likely to succeed in developing critical thinking skills, test taking skills, and more likely to be prepared to apply the STEM education tools they learn today in the workplace of tomorrow.

Yes, I'm suggesting that teachers and parents use digital tools much like an instructional assistant. Delegate to the PC, the Mac, and the plethora of community partners willing to work with K-12 students using social media and distance learning tools.

Most youngsters already understand the concepts related to technology operations, but they need guidance in Digital Citizenship, in understanding the ethics and rules and safety measures required to use the Internet effectively. Once they understand these guidelines, teachers can function more like coaches than fonts of knowledge. They no longer are responsible for providing all the information, rather they can help prepare students for adult life by guiding them in how to acquire knowledge on their own. The results can be effective test-takers, students who are armed with 21st century learning skills.

The new classrooms of the 21st century have new requirements. Therefore they must have new and different instructional methods that take advantage of emerging technologies and foster partnerships throughout the world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What is a S.T.E.M. Career?

Why all the fuss about STEM and STEM careers? Every few years the education field is overcome with a new buzz-word, a new way to improve schools and the way children learn and teachers teach, a new reform tactic. The onslaught of technology in the classroom, coincided with a quantum change in how people interact with computers, approximately 30 years ago. When Apple and Microsoft and a few lesser-knowns provided a desk-top interface, when Apple started giving away Apple IIs to every teacher who would use one and many who balked at the idea; when IBM hosted round-tables and think-tanks with K-12 educators; when software publishers raced through the gate to be the first to sell educational software to K-12 schools, there was a palpable shift in the way schools would be run and what the workplace would expect when newly-graduated students arrived.

That was the beginning of the shift. That was way back in the early 1980s. Can you even remember, if you were around then, conducting your work or study without a desktop computer as an appendage? If you are a Gen-Xer, try to imagine typing letters and putting them in the mailbox and waiting for a reply; calling people on the phone and waiting for a reply. Building a card catalogue of contacts and making notes on each card of your history with that person or organization. If you were trying to make something happen, you did what we called "networking." You called people and they would give you ideas of more people to call until you had created a network of interested parties or patrons on 3x5 cards. Big projects, like environmental awareness programs, called for huge expensive ad campaigns, phone trees, and bulk mailing from which you might expect a 2% response from a huge expensive and tedious outreach effort.

It took a while for people to catch on to the power of the personal computer. This wasn't just a fancy could create mailings, databases, spreadsheets. You could save files and organize files and people and projects. Some wondered early on how money could be made. Surely this was possible.

The desktop computer changed the way scientists could conduct research. They had a stake early on in students being trained in computer applications and programing. Computer science, engineering, and mathematics were quickly becoming  fields attracting nerds and geeks from every corner of the globe. Nerds were cool. Computer and video games flourished and software publishers capitalized on the possibilities early on: Tom Sneider, Mario, The Oregon grab a few from the recesses of my memory.

The private sector had much to gain now from a well-trained generation who were still sitting in traditional classrooms being taught by traditional teachers who were too busy to learn how to integrate computers into the classroom. This was 30 years ago and the struggle still exists, but we've come a long way.

I think the big wake-up call for the importance of a digital-savvy nation came when the bottom fell out of the economy. We really needed to get serious about keeping up with the Joneses on the eastern side of the global neighborhood; we needed to get serious about assuring our children of a place in a world that is nothing like the one their parents graduated into. 21st Century Skills translated into jobs and with luck, a college scholarship because who can afford that luxury any more?

About the same time the market flopped, and big bunch of oil was spilled into the sea. Children in classrooms in every corner of the world were watching one of the biggest ecological disasters in history, live, as it unfolded--a powerful teachable event. Scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians from around the globe came together to solve a crisis. Some classrooms watched, some participated, hundreds of thousands of students discovered during that time the importance and the relevance of preparing for a STEM career.

Today, STEM education and STEM careers have become one of the biggest buzzwords to hit the education field in a long time. If you are a classroom teacher or a K-12 administrator, you might be interested in reading my book: Connecting Students to STEM Careers, Social Networking Strategies.

Monday, June 25, 2012

ISTE2012 Conference!

Are you attending the ISTE2012 Conference?  You might be there in San Diego right now!  If so, Don't miss out on an opportunity to pick up my book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, Social Networking Strategies, and other great ISTE books. "Why now?" you say, "when I have my hands filled with conference materials, my laptop, my lunch..."

Here's why: If you visit ISTE Central (and it's located near the entrance), you can take advantage of the show special and if you buy 4 books, they give you the 5th one free and will ship all of them to you at no cost!

If you're not at the conference, you might be wondering what it's all about. Well, not only is ISTE one of the top publishers of educational technology books in the world, they are the premier professional organization for educators world-wide. Visit their website and find out about professional development opportunities, forums, advocacy groups, and more.

The annual conference, formerly call NECC, has been going on for over 30 years, drawing teachers, administrators, and tech professionals together in a different major city in the U.S. This year it's in San Diego. There are hundreds of sessions, workshops, panels, gatherings, demos; 500 vendor exhibits including agencies and organizations in the educational technology field. 400 informal and interactive learning activities and sessions focus on the bleeding edge of what's new and what's emerging to help teachers and administrators keep in touch with how their classrooms and schools can improve learning and teaching by integrating technology.

Visit the conference website for more information. And if you're there now, don't miss out on ISTE Central where you can see all the latest ISTE books, including mine, and meet some of the authors and staff in person!

If you're not there, you can pick up a copy of the book any time by visiting their website store.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Free STEM Online

Keeping up with STEM at no Cost

I was blown away the other day when someone from an organization called Online Universities got in touch to say they'd been following my blog and that they had connections with all kinds of free online S.T.E.M. resources, professional development and advanced courseware. No kidding! My follower gave me a link to a blog that lists all kinds of great resources including classes, lecture series, videos, forums, and an array of instructional opportunities to study or simply keep up in the so-called STEM fields. It seems the acronym has really caught on and is being used as a marketing tool. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a way to say in one syllable what could take several paragraphs otherwise, right? It's a way to provide an umbrella for content in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics...all the left-brainers under one roof, so to speak.

The blog post is titled, "50 Best Sources of Free STEM Education Online." The post provides links to programs such as MIT Open Courseware, Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Channel, iTunesU, Muppet Labs, Discovery Channel...all great stuff, even help with math. There was a time one would have to spend weeks gathering all this information. Technology has freed up our time for more creative endeavors. Making best use of technology-based resources like these and others provides us with so much more than the task at hand. It changes our world and how we interface with it....changes how we learn, how we communicate, and the depth and breadth of what we can ingest and digest. In many ways, it's how effectively one uses the tools. Learning where to find the information is one of the key steps to effective use of digital tools.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Curiosity Inspired the Kid

Jay Matheson

What Inspires a Students' Passion?

...the journey to find out.

Passionate teachers and role models grab children's attention, engage their interest. There are so many stimulations competing for a child's interest and attention these days. It's a wonder they can focus on or become engaged authentically in anything.

A colleague inspired me to write the book, Connecting Students to STEM Careers. We worked together on a project of his invention to help rural students gain awareness of potential career fields through meeting and talking with role models, mentors, and other professionals, from a distance, by using the new digital tools.

As an online facilitator and teacher trainer for this federally-funded project, I became aware of the issue of isolation, not only isolation in the classroom, but isolation from the world as a rural student. I also became aware that it's not necessary for these students to be cut off from the world any longer because of the wealth of distance learning tools and programs, because of all the generous professionals willing to share their time with classroom students.

Jay built a successful career awareness program around the belief that " have a natural curiosity about people," he says. "I don't know if kids are really very curious about jobs, but they are curious about adults and what adults do, so we're tyring to play on that. The content might have been science or math related, but then to spend some time allowing kids to do that natural kind of chatter with the presenter....There's a natural curiosity that young people have...because in their minds they're going to be doing some of those things. You never know when you're going to come across an interest in a child."

He is one of those special educators who has, over the years, come to understand the workings of the brain of a child. He is one of those special educators who get it and apply it with amazing innovation and care. Recently, Jay started a blog telling his story as a 40-some year educator, from his days as a student teacher to his time as an administrator at one of Oregon's Education Service Districts.

Check out the beginnings of the story. I can already tell it's one I'll follow with interest:
one educator's memoir........ 

You can also learn more about the Extending Career Options for Rural Students project in the book.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Funding STEM Programs and Projects

Fundraising and Grantwriting Tips

So many good ideas, so little money. In the last decade, there has been an overwhelming surge of innovation for education. Fueled by technological advances, by the invention of new and improved digital tools at extraordinary speed, we are inspired. Perhaps I should say the kids are inspired and educators have grabbed onto the tail of the comet. And rightly so. Snooze and lose. We can organize the chaos for good, connect students to all kinds of people, all kinds of opportunities that once would have been way beyond the grasp of a classroom student, Anywhere, USA.

Here's the rub: it costs so much just to have access to the technology, how will we fund the projects and programs the technology will support? Where will the money come from to fuel the innovation? We must be clever and thoughtful fundraisers. Gone are the days one was able to write up a good idea, organize a grant proposal, and wait for the check to arrive.

I've raised millions of dollars for educational projects over the years, through grants, partnerships, and dreaded cold calls. Here are a few tips to help if you're struggling to find ways to fund your STEM project, your STEAM project, or if you're still trying to come up with enough iPads or laptops to go around:

  • Don't try to do it alone....establish working partnerships. Show potential funders how you can make their dollars stretch and support more than one classroom, more than one school. Show them you have learned to cooperate and to share.
  • Do find partners in cyberspace. Check out Classroom 2.0, Teacher 2.0, and the many forums on LinkedIn to find like-minded colleagues and classrooms. Use the tools to build something meaningful together and demonstrate to potential funders that you are a mover and a shaker.
  • Read grant guidelines carefully. Pay attention to details such as deadlines, grant dollar ranges, and areas of interest. Keep calendars of deadlines and NEVER ask for money for equipment if they state in their written material they do not fund equipment. Remember the adage: "What part of 'no' don't you understand?" (My 7th grade English teacher taught us about 'File 13,' where papers go when someone hasn't followed directions.)
  • Before you start fundraising, be sure your program has measurable goals, objectives, and outcomes. Demonstrate that you have a business sense. What will be the return on their investment? How is it measured? How will you collect the data?  Express your goal, and also WHY this goal is critical.
  • If your project is funded once, how will the program fly on its own down the road? After all, you wouldn't ask someone to throw money into a blackhole would you? Or would you?
  • Know your audience. Who will be reading your materials and making decisions? Get inside their heads if you can. Peruse their websites and understand their mission. Don't invite the president of a company to your science fair on the day of their company's annual marathon.
  • Keep your funders and your community informed about your programs and your progress. Promote, promote, promote. Share the good news, share the struggles, engage the community. Make them want you and your project to succeed. Use social media, and use it wisely. Model cyber citizenship for your students. Get students to help.
  • Don't be afraid to make a call to local industry presidents, board members, and other decision-makers to solicit their help. Listen to public radio make their bids for membership donations and from them, get tips on sales strategies. In their relentless bids for community support they focus on the benefits of public radio. What are the benefits of well-educated kids who are prepared to participate in the world ahead, prepared and inspired to attend college, to innovate and invent?
  • If you believe, potential funders and potential partners will believe.
  • By the way, there are avenues of support other than money: time, materials, and even moral support will get you to your goal.
There are many grants databases for schools.  Once upon a time, the only place to find foundations was through the Foundation Center (which is still a great resource), but now there are a plethora of specialized references online.  One example of a site I like is Grant Wrangler, check it out, they feature grants and awards by grade level, subject area, and deadlines. Very cool.

In the book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, Social Networking Strategies, you'll find more of these resources in Chapter 6.

If you are seeking help with your funding strategies, contact me at Schoolhouse Communications.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Making the Connection to Digital Learning

The Perils of Outdated Classrooms

At one time, classrooms were isolated and separated from the world—students listening to teachers, taking notes, hoping to remember tidbits to regurgitate later on exams and pop-quizzes. Their will to succeed, or perhaps their fear, kept them awake, not their engagement in the learning activity. Educators who cling to the old ways do so at the peril of the students they teach.

We are, like a speeding bullet or train, heading into a digital world that is no longer simply "emerging," it is blooming every day: new tools, new sites, new social media strategies. It's easy to say, "I don't have time for that," or, "I don't want my kids lurking around the Internet, it's too dangerous." While both of those statements are true in some way, K-12 teachers who ignore the world in which their students live, leave them to fend for themselves.

Yes, it's important to connect students to S.T.E.M. career resources and awareness, but it's just as important to train them in the effective use of the digital tools and social media sites that could be utilized in the classroom.

Several years ago I heard Ian Jukes speak at an education conference. His passion filled the room. I thought, "Is this guy on something?" I later decided that he is one of those rare people who are doing what they are meant to do, and doing it with gusto. He is a champion for 21st century learning, so to speak. To this end he is a prolific speaker and blogger and author. I recommend his blog: The Commited Sardine. You can commit too by visiting the blog and subscribing.

Do you know about flipped classrooms? Would you like to learn more about global classrooms, gaming for learning, and learning with handhelds? If you want to spend a little time catching up, understanding digital kids, subscribe to his blog. No, I'm not working for the guy, I never met him. I beleive he is someone who can help anyone who wants to get onboard the train and help guide the kids who are using digital tools to play, to use those tools to learn. The peril is in becoming irrelevant.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Adapting to New Tools in the Classroom

Since changes are going on anyway, the great thing is to learn enough about them so that we will be able to lay hold of them and turn them in the direction of our desires. Conditions and events are neither to be fled from nor passively acquiesced in; they are to be utilized and directed.
-John Dewey

There are universal roadblocks to adopting and adapting to new tools and new strategies for teaching and learning: access, training, time, money, and resistance. If we don't accept the challenge, the consequences of leaving kids behind in a world that's rapidly changing and evolving are critical.

We are sliding into the digital age faster than the proverbial speeding bullet. We who were born and raised in a different environment may never catch up. What we can do is listen to and learn from the young people who were born into a technology-rich world, who have had radically different experiences. It is our challenge to guide these kids, our students, with our own unique knowledge and experiences. We have the wisdom of the past to share with the world citizens of the future.

Education will look different in ten years, so will the marketplace into which they will go. Building relationships with professionals who work in S.T.E.M. fields will help prepare students by broadening their view of the possibilities, by seeding the fertile soil of their passions and their imaginations. The emerging digital tools have the power to connect K-12 students to people, to ideas, and dialogue that informs them about the world.

The key to success is having an open mind and to be willing to explore the possibilities, often on one's own time. The results will be new relationships between teachers and students...learning and adapting across generations and across cultures.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Social Media in the Classroom

picture by ivanpw
More and more, classroom teachers are making use of social media in the classroom. At first, there was great resistance from teachers, administrators, and IT staff.  Teachers had to take time out of already overtaxed schedules to learn the technology (we can all relate) and then to learn how to use it effectively for instruction. Administrators had to make decisions that could come back to haunt them. Someone might lose their job or their credibility. For IT staff, it meant more work in terms of support and also in terms of the safety of their network where critical data is utilized and stored. Ultimately, they had to open the floodgate (ports on the firewall) and let the "wild rumpus" start. Eventually, as we have observed with the emergence of desktop and instructional technology in the classroom since the mid 1980s, technology as a part of our culture and therefore part of learning cannot be denied. From the time the computer was made available to the individual and the Internet became accessible to all, there was no turning back.

When I first began writing Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, Social Networking Strategies, one of the top issues barring the integration of social media in the classroom was the blocking of blogs, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media by school district firewalls, by the people making those decisions. But Zeitgeist can't be denied. Everyone was using it at home and businesses had incorporated social networking seemingly overnight, as soon as the hundredth monkey discovered its value as a no-cost marketing and communication tool. Educators in the know wrote articles and presented workshops. "We have to deal with it," said education writer Patrick J. McCloskey in the 2009 Teacher Magazine article. "Locking out the sites and tools of this new world our kids live in will render us irrelevant and useless when our students need us most...many of our students know how to reach a larger audience more quickly than any school district memo could ever hope to...our students need our help to make them understand how powerful that is....We can build the 24/7/365 school if we embrace the technologies our students are already using."

This sentiment and thousands like it flooded the education media highway and before you could say Jack Sprat could eat no fat, kids were bringing their cell phones, lap tops and iPads into the classroom. One report in early 2011 listed, for the month of February, 550,000,000 Facebook users; 95,800,000 had joined Twitter, and over 42 million people were using Nings such as Classroom 2.0 and Flat Classroom. The vanguard now has instant data.

Today it's safe to say that we've wandered far enough into the woods that there's no going back. Perhaps it's time to review why use social media in the classroom. Here are a few suggestions related to the Career book:
  • learn about careers in fields like environmental science from the professionals in those fields 
  • ...prepare for the future workplace
  • be proficient in digital technology skills including teamwork/collaboration
  • learn how to use the tools effectively, safely and legally
  • be able to evaluate and share content
  • learn what's real and what's a scam
  • discover how many ways science, technology and art are a part of the way we live and work
  • motivate students by allowing them to engage in and direct their learning based on personal passions
  • help students discover they, too, can achieve anything
  • tap students' imaginations about their futures and their personal potential
  • provide them with an up-close look at the world without having to leave the classroom
  • allow space for young people to begin to imagine a future outside the realm of their own experiences
We have always known that people learn better in context. With careful guidance by teachers and parents, young people can harness what they do for fun on the Internet to build a community of professional partners in the classroom.

Please join the blog and share how your students are using social media in the classroom.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Career and Job Predictions

Kids in classrooms are using technology to explore career options. It would seem they can't really go wrong by pursuing careers in any one of the S.T.E.M. fields. If they aren't so inclined, if they have a passion for the arts, I believe it's important to follow your bliss as Joseph Campbell pointed out. Happiness is an element of success often left out of the equation by well-meaning educational policy-makers and parents who worry about the security of their childrens' futures.

And what is it that we know about the future in terms of the job market right now? I read an interesting article on the Internet yesterday published by Monster dot com. It was actually two articles, one listed jobs that died in 2011 and the other the "The Best Careers for Right Now." Both lists were somewhat predictable: Real estate agents might hang up their hats; if you deliver the mail, find a new day job; if you stand behind the counter in a video store you might not have seen a customer for a while; newspaper reporters can keep on writing, just not at their old desk at the newspaper office. Fifty percent of the secure jobs for the future as predicted in this article, posted on Comcast, are in the S.T.E.M. fields, particularly in the area of health care and information technology.

While encouraging young people to keep their compass on their passions and their dreams, let's include in that directive the importance of watching the world as it evolves, and also keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror. By understanding the past, and staying awake in the present, we might be ready for the future.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Savvy Blogger

With so many bloggers and social mediaites sharing information, ideas, opinions, and resources about technology integration in the classroom, it's difficult and time-consuming to separate the wheat from the chaff. One of the best educational technology blogs, and I list this one in my book, is written by Tim Wilson: The Savvy Technologist. Once a classroom teacher, he now works as a chief technology officer in a public school in Minnesota. He uses his blog to chat about technology integration from his perspective as a classroom teacher. His blog posts are engaging and straight-forward. He began sharing his ideas and opinions focusing on blogs and wikis several years ago. His musings and his unique philosophical style now cover a range of emerging digital communication tools. This is a blog that offers value for both novices and experts. If you're a beginner wondering how to get started with social media, I recommend The Savvy Technologist. If you're an expert with years of experience, here is a peer whose thoughts and suggestions are worth the time it takes to read what someone else has taken the time to share.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is Career Awareness?

Some may wonder what is "Career Awareness." With the competitive world today's students face upon graduation, it's important they are aware of the many possibilities for jobs and career paths in all kinds of fields.

Once they become aware of their passions such as the environment, medicine, scientific research, and how the arts might be connected to these interests, they need to be introduced to the options and possibilities and how these relate to their studies now. They need to be challenged long before they get to college or enter the workplace.

In the book, Connecting Students to S.T.E.M. Careers, I propose that, "Students who were once isolated within the four walls of the classroom can now use interactive digital media and distance learning tools to interview professionals and learn from role models through firsthand experiences. As students develop relationships...goal setting becomes more authentic....They begin to understand the education and training needed to fulfill their dreams." They begin to develop a clearer understanding of why they are doing what they are asked to do in the classroom.

One of my own mentors, Jay Matheson, who provided inspiration for the book through his Oregon-based project, Extending Career Options for Rural Students, says, "There's a natural curiosity that young people have--because in their minds they're going to be doing some of those things. You never know when you're going to come across an interest in a child."

There is an extensive list of STEM-related career degree programs available at this government site: STEM-designated careers. The light may go on for one movitvated student by browsing this list.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Together we do it Better

I owe a debt to all the smart people who talked to me about STEM career awareness and allowed me to quote them in my book, Connecting Students to STEM Careers. Without these partners, the book wouldn't be so smart or so informative.

That's true for all partnerships, and helps make the point of why we should partner classrooms with people in our global community. Students need role models, people to emulate. Let's not put it all on the shoulders of individual teachers. Easy to blame one teacher, but really? 

One partner who contributed to my book is Kathy Schrock. She is well-known for sharing what she has learned about educational technology with teachers everywhere. She isn't in it for the money, clearly, she just seems to like to help teachers. Here is her website where teachers, parents, students, anyone, can find great resources for teaching and learning: Kathy Schrock.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Science Resources for Kids

Regional Science Centers can be found all over the world, but the days of school bus driven field trips for school children are all but over. Fortunately for today's students, digital technology is the magic carpet on which to ride in order to visit places like the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University's Department of Astronomy, or the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute; the Regional Science Center at Moorhead at Minnesota State University, or the Science and Discovery Center in Central New York, or the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or any one of the Science Learning Centres located in the United Kingdom, to name but a handful of the many regional science centers welcoming and inspiring students through virtual doors every day from all over the world.

No parent permission slips or brown-bag lunches are required. Parents don't have to chew their fingernails all day long and keep an ear to the news in fear of a deadly bus crash, knowing that the school buses on which their children ride have no seat belts. They'll be home before dark. They'll be home at the usual time, even if they've been to Tucson, Arizona or Washington , DC.

The ticket to ride on these virtual field trips is bandwidth, teacher innovation, and administrative support. Science centers are one example of the kind of community partnerships upon which today's students thrive and tomorrow's workforce relies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Digital Tools in the Classroom

My publisher, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), is also a professional membership organization (with members all over the world, I might add), and they do more than just publish books. They support educators in their quest to stay abreast of emerging desktop technologies, and this is no small job. At this point, digital tools are emerging like ants at a candy store picnic.

ISTE has developed technology integration standards for teachers, administrators, and students. Under the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NET*S), K-12 students are encouraged to use the same tools they use to communicate with their friends outside of school to "...construct knowledge to generate new use digital media to work collaboratively [to] develop cultural understanding and global awareness."

By following some of the ideas in the book, Connecting Students to STEM Careers, Social Networking Strategies, students will not only broaden their awareness of trends and opportunities in these fields, they will, in the process, expand their proficiency in the use of technology for professional purposes. They will gain:
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • [Skills related to] Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship [by learning about safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology]
  • [...a sound understanding of] Technology Operations and Concepts
To learn more about the ISTE NET*S, about how to become an ISTE member, to learn about their annual conference, or how to purchase the STEM book, visit the ISTE website:

Members have access to a worldwide community of their peers on the ISTE site through blogging, Nings, and other social and digital media tools. If you're a teacher or a parent, I suggest it's important to stay ahead of the digital curve.