Walter McKenzie

The Whole Child Requires Whole Tech

So you're actively working to implement the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative? Excellent! How about your whole tech initiative? What's your vision for technology in education? Not what you have in your inventory or what you're comfortable using, but your action plan for technology empowering the whole child. Why? Because in today's world, technology is not an add-on or a nice-to-have; it's an essential array of tools that support and energize every Whole Child tenet.

Through the ubiquitous use of technology, students can experience and internalize:

  • Healthy values, habits, and attitudes essential to working successfully online.
  • Safe practices for connecting, communicating, and collaborating with others virtually.
  • Engaging, meaningful learning embedded in their local and global communities.
  • Supportive, personalized learning that accommodates their unique needs and interests.
  • Challenging, higher-level learning that prepares them to realize their full potential as global citizens.

Technology in whole child schools is more than simply putting in place web portals and student information systems. Yes, tracking of student data is important, but these things should already be in place, in an integrated manner that provides appropriate, secure access to families and community agencies working in concert.

For the whole child, schools need whole tech that promotes

  • All the tools available to children in their daily lives;
  • Technology use that is incidental and seamless in learning (it's not about the technology);
  • Tasks that are purposeful, authentic, real-world applications of skills and understandings;
  • Work that requires problem solving, product development, and the creation of new knowledge;
  • Digital portfolios that showcase student growth and learning over time; and
  • Publication of new student-generated content that contributes to our global body of knowledge.

For this whole tech vision to be a reality, students must be connected on the fly wherever their learning takes them. The Industrial Age model of workstations, labs, and whiteboard-centric classrooms is outdated. Schools must mirror today's workplaces, providing a robust wireless environment that covers the entire campus, allowing students to use their own portable devices as they work.

Not there yet? Don't be discouraged. Whatever your school's current technology status, the key is to espouse and work toward a whole tech vision. It requires less investment in hardware and software and builds more capacity for learning and productivity. Most importantly, it aligns nicely with your commitment to the tenets of the whole child. It won't happen all at once, but it will happen. You will play an important role in education transformation in your community, and create a legacy for learning in the future.

Whole Child Virtual Conference - 2013

Join Walter and Thomas Hoerr, head of school, New City School, St. Louis, Mo., for their presentation, "Grit: Multiple Intelligences and Instructional Technology in the Classroom," on Thursday, May 9, as part of ASCD's free, online 2013 Whole Child Virtual Conference. Registration is now open. Go to www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference to sign up.

Walter McKenzie is a lifelong learner, teacher, leader, and connector. A director of Constituent Services for ASCD, he served 25 years in public education as a classroom teacher, instructional technology coordinator, director of technology, and assistant superintendent for information services. He is internationally known for his work on multiple intelligences and technology and has published various books and articles on the subject. Connect with McKenzie on the ASCD EDge® social network, on his Actualization blog, or by e-mail at wmckenzie@ascd.org.

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