At the AASL President's Program held during the ALA 2010 Annual Conference, speaker Alison Zmuda challenged librarians to offer ideas on how they could help students acquire 21st-Century skills. Verizon Thinkfinity collaborated with the AASL to create the The specified item was not found., which ended at midnight on July 15, 2010 (please note that challenge submissions entered here will not be considered.)
We have closed the Challenge discussion, but want to keep a lively exchange going among school librarians and others in the educational community. How do you (or how does your school librarian) help students acquire the skills they need for the 21st Century? What is working for you now, and what are your ideas for the future?
Verizon Thinkfinity Community Manager
I enjoyed the opportunity to write up my ideas for 21st Century Learning and apply for the grant, but I also learned a lot from reading everyone's proposals and got some new ideas to try at my high school. My favorite "game changer" has been the Google Apps acquisition by our wonderfully progressive tech department. Not only do the students and staff have access to a protected cloud computing suite of applications, but the teachers that I collaborated with directly (9th grade World Cultures classes) saw a huge increase in accountability and quality when they were communicating with their students directly through Google Docs. One teacher's students at the junior level were required to work on an ongoing research project and peer edit with a small group and he checked and gave them credit for their edits daily. The students reported a high level of engagement and empowerment through this process. I like this so much because I think it prepares them for the level of electronic communication they will need in their future workplaces as well as encouraging better research results right now. What experiences have others of you had with Google Apps or other web 2.0 tools?
Our experiences in Charleston County School District, SC is that our IT people block Goggle Docs and most blogs and video content inside the district firewall. Otherwise, we do use the tools professionally, but off campus. So, we have a difficult time helping students acquire 21st Century skills. And yes, we are active on district committees for IT policy.
I am so glad that my Tech Department is so progressive, especially when I read about problems like yours. We have access to just about everything except Facebook because of the blurred lines between social and scholarly use. Good luck with your efforts. My most difficult challenge now is to find enough teachers interested in bringing the technology to the students, but we are getting there slowly but surely.