Recently, the Carnegie Corporation announced a $15M grant program to seed the creation of innovative models for new high schools in the U.S. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate how their school plans to leverage Carnegie’s 10 integrated design principles for a high performing secondary school. In their report, Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success, Carnegie notes that “Instead of retooling individual elements such as teacher preparation, learning time, or technology in isolation, all the elements that we know work and some emerging tools must be integrated into comprehensive school designs that will truly meet the needs of every student.” In essence, we need a complete redesign of how schools work and what schooling means.
There is a lot to be done, but for starters, we’ve seen how integrating technology into a school’s fundamental design can create new avenues for learning and teaching. New tools for visualizing data enable teachers to explain complex material, while helping students better understand complicated math or science concepts. Technology unlocks access to ideas and resources that have value and application beyond the walls of a computer lab; the power of technology impacts classrooms long after the laptop has been powered down for the night.
Most importantly, technology fosters creative thinking by expanding the tools we have to be creative. By incorporating digital storytelling or mobile game design into the classroom, we allow students to explore and think outside the box. And, as we’ve said here before, companies want employees who can do more than specific tasks – they want people who can think creatively, who innovate and who have the right skills for tomorrow’s workplace. To better prepare our students for success, we should integrate lessons and assignments that promote creative and innovative thinking. Technology is just one tool that will help educators achieve these goals.
The opportunity to innovate is here. What do you think it will take to create the high school of tomorrow?