About AT @ AISB
By investing in technology and making access to it ubiquitous, AISB hopes to:
- Increase instructional time
- Prepare students for the future by
- Developing their electronic communication skills
- Improving their organization
- Practicing their problem-solving and self-learning skills
- Making their use of technology fluent, effortless, and responsible to produce more professional and authentic work
- Expand the quantity and quality of resources beyond textbooks
School mission statements are, by necessity, general and aspirational rather than specific and unambiguous. Therefore, they do not often change. The world, however, does; “We are living through a transformation equal to the Industrial Revolution, and uncertainty is our daily companion,” says project manager Michael Dobson. 60% of the jobs that our students will have upon graduation do not currently exist, according to the US Department of Labor, and the fastest-growing highly-skilled occupation is computer programmer, a discipline younger than nearly all of the teachers and parents in the school community. More immediately, in order to be ready for college, students need to be able to “use technology and digital media strategically and capably” . In the last five years, “the number of college students taking at least one online course” has doubled to 45% in the United States according to research published in the 2013 College Explore as cited in Campus Technology. And, university professors will expect students to be able to “employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, and language use”; “tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently”; and “select and use those [technological tools and mediums] best suited to their communication goals”1.
As a school, we want to stay relevant and current, but we need not throw out the old in order to embrace the new. Our parents and elementary teachers speak passionately about the importance of interpersonal skills and self-regulation. Our humanities teachers affirm that reading both long- and short-form informational and literary texts are more important than websites. Our math and science teachers still see the need for procedural, analytical, and numerical thinking. And our students still see organization and communication skills the most important outcomes of their education.
In other words, we are still building a solid foundation for our students. At the same time, their future employers will ask more of them than in years past, and we need to enable our students to meet these requirements. They will be expected to be not only traditionally literate but also fluent in design, creativity, and new modes of communication such as social media. They will need to not only recall facts about a diverse array of subjects but more importantly to be able to locate, analyze, and synthesize information from both print and electronic resources. They will be expected to work effectively and efficiently, and this will be (indeed, already is) dependent upon their use of technology – as one parent puts it, “computers are the future, and our students need to use them from a young age.”
More ubiquitous technology will help us meet the evolving learning needs of our students. Our teachers state that having many, and more reliable, devices and faster, more reliable internet as the most important facets of technology that could help student learning. They want our students to be able to connect more easily with real-life (“authentic”) learning experiences. Some parents and teachers would like to see both responsible device use and programming take a greater role in the curriculum. And our students would like to be better organized and better prepared for college, goals directly addressed by numerous applications and websites devoted specifically to helping students manage their lives and learning.
Therefore, as of the 2015-16 school year, AISB has decided to move to a technology model where each child has a device beginning in Grade 4 and students in earlier grades have access to appropriate technology resources. The intention is not for students and teachers to use computers every minute of every class. Their ubiquity does not mean teachers would give up the ability to work on interpersonal skills. Rather, ubiquitous technology would open up new avenues of challenge for our student body. It would give students and teachers the opportunity to use technology to surpass the aforementioned goals and gain authentic experience navigating the evolving world with a minimum of lost instructional time due to transitioning to labs or setting up devices from a shared cart. Paired with student and parent initiatives to promote responsible use, it would prepare students for the real world – both online and off.
Thus, this vision represents AISB’s mission as an iterative rather than cumulative endeavor: its core values do not change, but how they manifest themselves in the real world does, and the application of the mission to the everyday learning environment is and always will be a work in progress.