With federal aid and other resources, local education authorities have found a way to provide most to all students a device for school purposes.  Most refer to this as a 1:1 device to student ratio.  Some may claim that this is providing equitable access, yet there is more to it than a device.  The true magic begins when the learner and educator create a serendipitous relationship where devices are used as tools to empower the learning authentically.

An important topic for schools to analyze is how to leverage devices for student achievement.  The truth is that a device is a tool of potential, like a car with a full tank of gas.  If driven safely, it can take you to places that a bike cannot.  Knowing how to drive the device and its capabilities will empower the learning possibilities.

“Empower” is one of those buzzwords in education.  It gets used in a million different ways; such as, “Our goal is to engage and empower students'' or “This is how I empower students to learn.”   Educators and administrators need to understand how that actualises with learners.  It’s important to unpack what empowered learning looks like:

  • Create the conditions for an empowering learning environment.  We really cannot make learners do anything, but we certainly can provide an environment where our learners can take us up on building characteristics of an empowered learner.
  • Provide learners an environment where their voice matters and they belong.  This entails knowing your learners and providing activities and support to build on assets from their culture, family background, outside engagements, and other parts of their lives.  Provide various platforms to share and be heard in a format that is meaningful and authentic.
  • Teach empathy.  Encourage and integrate stories and real life experiences that are relevant and pertinent.  Allow for critical thinking, conversation, and analysis of community and social scenarios.
  • Co-design with the learners.  Lift up their ideas and opinions when designing the learning process such as unpacking standards and planning learning targets.  Provide strategies to learners to create individual goals and a plan how they will achieve them.
  • Do pre-planning to dismantle any barriers in the learning process.  Start with your most vulnerable students and think of what needs could arise.  Provide an abundance of tools to support learner variability, and scaffolds to lift learners into the academic expectations.
  • Facilitate the learning process by providing opportunities for formative feedback from the educator, peers, and self.  When learners can engage in the act of metacognition, they have a chance to see opportunities of growth and build their own internal learner profile.
  • View learning as a continuum of readiness.  Share this viewpoint with learners acknowledging that we are all ready at different stages of development.  Humanity is so variable; therefore, celebrate our growth and achievements!
  • Provide choice as much as possible.  This can eliminate compliance and build student agency.  It also provides opportunities for students to practice decision-making and its results.
  • Build a community where learners take risks and fail.  Create an environment where students feel safe and encourage students to take risks.  Success is often the result of multiple failures and the perseverance to continue onward toward a goal.  Praise them for their effort and determination.  Model vulnerability and acknowledge your own mistakes.
  • Give students time to pause and reflect - that is when the learning happens.  Time to pause and reflect helps students stay focused, reflect on what they are learning, and organize their thoughts.

To wrap things up, have high expectations for your learners.  When you believe in your learners, they will be more apt to meet and exceed those expectations.  If you co-design the learning with your learners, they will create high expectations by designing goals and actions that lead to their very own success.  This is empowerment!!

PowerGistics is providing a playbook to support local education authorities and schools to implement a plan to build a digital environment.  The amounts of digital tools and programs that are available today to support learning needs is exponential.  

Teaching learners of these tools and strategies will allow access and engagement in the learning process.   This, ultimately, leads to empowered learners!