Peter Noonan, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services at Fairfax County Public Schools, is pleased to see that schools around the division are already ahead of the curve when it comes to incorporating technology into their learning strategies.
As a former teacher, principal, Cluster Superintendent, and now the Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, he has long known that for students to achieve and succeed in school, they must be taught in the ways that make sense to them.
“Since they were babies, most of our students have used computers to learn and explore the world,” he explains. “By the time they get to elementary school, they have created their own content online — be it as an art or writing assignment, or sending a text to their friends. Our high school students are also incredibly advanced when it comes to working on computers. Anyone born before the digital age can barely keep up.”
As a result, he insists, educators need to adapt their teaching styles and models to reflect what is happening in the world. The first step, Noonan suggests, is to be able to provide kids with digitally generated content in a technologically rich environment.
“Most educators agree that the gap in student achievement increases when kids don’t have good access to information in the way that makes sense to them,” he says. “What they do out of school is as important as what they do in our buildings, and unfortunately what they are accessing at home — on the Internet, through Facebook, and other social media sites — is anything but rich in educational content. So what we need to do is inspire them to want to excel in school by using the digital content so that they love to learn when we aren’t watching.”