GHAPS: Technological changes changing how we educate

If you are over 40 and reading this, there is a good chance you made it through high school, and maybe even college, without the aid of a personal computer or iPad.
Feb 14, 2014


It is possible that time has even caused you to look back at those days of microfilm, card catalogs and library stacks — not to mention mom’s upright typewriter and all of that messy carbon paper and white-out — with a sort of fond nostalgia.

Innovation of personal technology has caused most of us in this demographic to adapt or get left behind.

Innovation is American in nature. Its root word, "innovate," is a verb meaning “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products.” 

Americans tend to cherish innovation and celebrate innovators as heroes. However, when it comes to innovation in our schools, we often take a collective pause. That nostalgia kicks in and it is easy to think that the way education was for us is the way it should be for our children. For those in that mindset, hold on to your hat — revolutionary change is going on all around us and it is not slowing down.

As the world has changed, so has the workforce. Gone are many of the routine jobs once available for high school graduates. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, technological changes, as well as an increase in global interdependence, have caused major implications for the U.S. workforce. The growth of what is now a “knowledge–based” economy requires skill levels a lecture and a workbook cannot deliver.

As the requirements for the end-result of education have changed, so must the manner in which education is delivered.

Whether it was the stone tablet, slate tablet or touch-screen tablet, teachers have always used “modern” tools to enhance their ability to teach. The best practices in education today include a great deal of differentiation, and modern technology excels at meeting student needs across the learning continuum.

Teachers can use the same piece of technology to identify individual learning needs and to provide unique learning opportunities. This ability to individualize the learning experience is key in allowing us to prepare students for their future in the job market — a job market that may not even exist yet.

Whether a student comes with little technology experience or significant exposure to technology at home, teachers strive to provide new opportunities. Teachers encourage students to become skilled digital citizens who can pursue their own learning, collaborate with others, evaluate information and create something new. Technology in the hands of our students allows each learner to readily take a concept and apply his or her creative process to express learning in a way that relates to each individual.  Technology opens doors to ideas, shared learning, concepts and thoughts that exist beyond the walls of our schools. 

The Grand Haven Area Public Schools mission statement includes "to work in partnership with the community to provide an excellent education that will prepare all learners for the challenges in a changing global society.” 

The change of our global society is well underway. How we change our schools to match it will define how successful our students become.

The fabric of our education system and its values will not change. However, the threads that we intertwine on a daily basis to deliver a world-class education will look different.  Our students are ready for the challenge. Our job is to meet them and lead them on their journey to excellence.

This community column was written by Grand Haven Area Public Schools employees Doug Start (technology coordinator), Valerie Livingston (principal of Mary A. White Elementary School) and Kevin Polston (principal of Lakeshore Middle School).



Former Grandhavenite

When I was going through GHAPS there was an absolute ban on cell phones and pagers. Oddly enough it wasn't based on the potential noise and distractions during class, but the administration apparently felt that anyone with a cell phone was clearly a player in the drug trade as they explained it to us. To be fair, I think it may have been a state law rather than stupidity on the part of GHAPS.

I'm all for teaching kids about technology, but the whole focus of education has shifted so heavily toward STEM fields that I think there's a risk of shortchanging them on the basics of reading, writing, and thinking.

As a statistician I spend most of the workday messing around with writing code and fine tuning spreadsheet formulas, but honestly I think social studies and English classes taught me more about the nature of humanity, how to work with others, and how to organize my thoughts. Music and art basically taught me that life is worth living. At work I've never been asked to find the indefinite integral of some function, but I'm sure faced with a lot of situations where I need to think independently in the spirit of Holden Caulfield, or make the best of a bad situation the way that Ivan Denisovich did, or write a coherent email. A lot of the mathematicians, programmers, and financial analysts that I work with are very bright, but they're also borderline illiterate based on some of the emails I've gotten. STEM careers are the future, but reading, writing, and thinking aren't going away anytime soon.


TECHNOLOGY CHANGING HOW WE EDUCATE - It's about using all the tools that a community, organization and individuals can bring to the table; connecting secondary and post-secondary education with business, providing freedom from regulation, simulating the real business environment, so that young people can move farther and faster toward self-sufficiency in a very different and rapidly changing economy...

A communication system for seamless & transparent workforce working together that promotes "People Helping People" in a collaborative and mentoring environment. Most Industries are fragmented in how we share information and get work done both within our own working environments, as well as among our institutions and organizations when communicating across numerous boundaries. We have a need for the ability to share information on a platform that will provide seamless and transparent communication. That both Education and the Industry workforce can teach and train when duplicating what works having "Expert Path Panels" through Industry Experienced Labor mentoring New learning Candidates for "Career Advancements" and "Across the board improvement plans".

Education Institutions are challenged yearly with their responsibility for reporting back a matrix of results to qualify for state and federal funding. Education Institutions biggest challenges are completing the obligations producing reports that “Prove” a successful career advancement program is preparing students for the 21st Century for jobs that employers are looking to hire. What better way than to put a living document in the hands of each student with incentives to report back to the institution they graduated from that proves and demonstrates their successful career path -in order to make the work easier for the institution to participate in the funding programs.

I am proud to be part of an advanced team of experts delivering proven new technology that is an enhancement to existing curriculum programs in career technical education. The solution offers on-line mentors that coach students from a distance that professionally develops them for career readiness while making that important transition to industry jobs.

an example of scenario of use:

Former Grandhavenite

"simulating the real business environment"

Our schools are pretty good at that. Nonsensical rules with little or no justification are handed down from on high and inconsistently enforced, and are often put in place to fix things that aren't broken. The 'company' is frequently reorganized not because the new organization would be more efficient, but because particular managers need to play corporate politics and climb the ladder by overseeing a "major initiative to drive change with a vision toward 2020" or some such nonsense.

Complex rules limiting one's career path are strictly enforced in the interest of the company keeping the regulators happy (State Board of Ed) and improving the numbers reported to Wall Street (improving test scores), unless of course you or your parents know the right people. Getting suspended for fighting back against a bully who punches you in the face is perfect training for a retail job of letting shoplifters and other criminals get away, since the corporate policy also tells you not to resist in any way and just take the abuse. If you're a school athlete they do a good job of training you to urinate on command to prove that you haven't been in contact with any plants not approved by the authorities, which is also a requirement for some corporate jobs. Mass surveillance of your online activity, even outside of working hours, and routine locker searches in violation of the fourth amendment are also very instructive of how the adult world operates.

Disclaimer: In all seriousness I think our school system does a lot of things very well, most of the employees do a good job and do it for the right reasons, a lot of the rules are written with the best of intentions, and I'm not actually this jaded and cynical about education or the corporate world. I just think the pendulum has swung way too far in one direction at the moment in the adult job world, and a lot of that has naturally carried over to the schools.


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