The Student Perspective at Envision Schools
Today I sat in the Learning Center at Envision Academy and thought about “the student perspective.” I feel like I have written so many blog post already in which students have been interviewed, and even blog posts written by students. So I am at a bit of a loss as to what I can add to this discussion.
Then lunch started and two students came in to eat and chit-chat. The two girls are senior and I have known them since they were freshman. I have watched them learn, and struggle, and grow – feeling pretty proud of how far they have come and the articulate things that they are saying about the importance of graduating, getting into a good college, and getting yours!
So I decided to talk to them about how Envision Academy has changed over the past four years with respect to technology. It was the summer between their freshman and sophomore years that Envision entered the Blended Learning arena, you can read more about this early pilot here, with the first pilot in Algebra I over summer school. “Oh Ms. Negash” exclaims Leilani, “She was such a cool teacher.” I agree.
“We have a lot more technology at the school now” says Nora. “I mean, everything is technology now, it’s 2014, so yeah, we should be using it for lots of things.” Nora does say that it is important to pick up a book and read, but that text-books are boring and “it’s easy to go on the internet to get relevant information.” Both students agree that there is much more access to technology now then when they both came to Envision Academy. “Of course we use computers in Digital Media Arts class, and Advanced Digital Media Arts” says Leilani, “but we also have laptops in AP Government and American Lit sometimes” says Nora. “We even use laptops in math still, like we go on Khan Academy and did a project on Desmos” Nora adds. Both students feel like it is important that they become skilled at navigating different types of learning with technology, and thus multiple accessing digital learning opportunities, “I mean, it is great to be able to write essays on Google docs and all, but that’s not everything” says Nora.
Leilani reflects on how the school has slowly change over the last 4 years and states, “for some students it is really great to have everything online, it is easy to get your work done, you always know exactly where you are and how your doing, and get help from your peers and teachers. But for students who don’t have a laptop at home it is still really difficult.” Leilani is hitting on the very really issue of the ‘device divide,’ and she mentions that at other schools students are even allowed to take laptops home. Nora too feels that more needs to be done so that students can access these rich learning opportunities outside of school. I agree.