Briana Morton on the 21st Century CTE Classroom

Recently, I was helping a veteran educator prepare for a job interview as an administrator in her school district. She is candid about her biggest weakness, which is not embracing technology soon enough. Let me be clear- her students have overcome great obstacles because of her approach to teaching, and she did it all without using a lot of cool gadgets; however, in hindsight, she wonders if she utilized best practices when it comes to effectively preparing her students with 21st century skills.

Yes, students can master standards without technology. But can students be prepared for tomorrow’s global workforce without the appropriate technological skills required by employers and the industry? According to the International Society for Technology in Education (www.iste.org), some of the 21st century skills needed for successful entry into higher education and the workforce include the ability to use personal computers for basic word processing, effective online communication, and the ability to solve basic problems using various forms of technology.

As educators, it is important that we embrace technology, but in the CTE classroom, it is imperative! In order to effectively train and prepare our future workforce, we must purposefully use technology in a way that is meaningful to them and beneficial to their preparation for a 21st century, global society.

Start small. You don’t have to use every app and every device for every project. In fact, if you are not tech savvy, focus on one project. One project that uses technology in a purposeful way will be more effective and create more opportunities for students rather than using something just because it is trendy.

Seek grants and you shall find. Every year, I purchase new technology for my classroom through grants. These are grants that I have sought out specifically for my students and specifically to prepare them for the 21st century.

When in doubt, figure it out! That sounds harsh, but isn’t that what you tell your students? You encourage them to problem solve, and that is what I am encouraging you to do! Trust me, you aren’t the only one who has questions and there are thousands of talented educators who have answers.

And finally, I can’t tell you what to specifically use for your classroom because we all take different approaches to education, but Google Apps for Education is my latest crush. My students have responded well to it also, which is extremely important! My students have small businesses and they are able to create a website using Blogger; create order forms for clients and analyze those spreadsheets using Google Docs; and collaborate with each other through Google Drive. Collaboration is the key. Any program that allows students to collaborate globally is wonderful! If you are proficient with Google, I highly recommend looking into ePals (www.epals.com) or TEDEd (ed.ted.com).

I look forward to hearing how you have embraced technology or how you are now committed to embracing technology. After all, it’s for our students and they deserve the best.