Guest columnist: Integrating technology into the classroom is
                      vital for work force




Steve Clement...
In 2000, according to the Virginia Department of Education, the state implemented the Web-
Based Standards of Learning Tec...
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Integrating Technology Into The Classroom Rtd 3 8 10

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Steve Clementi writes about the need to integrate technology into today's classrooms. He references the Partnership for 21st Century Skills organization which says stduents must learn skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration.

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Integrating Technology Into The Classroom Rtd 3 8 10

  1. 1. Guest columnist: Integrating technology into the classroom is vital for work force Steve Clementi STEVE CLEMENTI GUEST COLUMNIST Published: March 8, 2010 Updated: March 8, 2010 At the risk of showing my age, and with apologies to my children, I've often told them how lucky they are to be going to school during this time. Throughout my days of attending Catholic schools in Wisconsin, we learned by sitting quietly in a classroom and listening to a teacher or nun read to us from a book. There was little interaction, field trips were rare, and any visits to the library involved perusing microfilm and lots of painfully slow research. Of course, today's students have it much easier -- and much more difficult, depending on your point of view. While the advent of the Internet has opened up a world of information to students and made learning extremely efficient, the table stakes for what they do with all the technological advances and knowledge are a great deal higher. We hear a lot about the work force of the future needing to have 21st-century skills, but what exactly are those skills? According to the education advocacy organization Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in addition to core knowledge instruction -- think of the three R's -- students also must learn skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and collaboration. The process of learning those skills begins in classrooms all over the commonwealth, the country and the world. And Virginia's education system is responding to this challenge.
  2. 2. In 2000, according to the Virginia Department of Education, the state implemented the Web- Based Standards of Learning Technology Initiative. In 2004, Virtual Virginia debuted, providing Advanced Placement and other challenging courses for more than 2,500 middle and high school students from 238 middle and high schools across the commonwealth. In 2005, Virginia created a network of more than 1,200 instructional technology resource teachers to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom effectively. With this action, Virginia became the first state to provide instructional technology support to teachers on such a large scale. Virginia on iTunes U launched in 2009 to provide a Web-based repository for standards-based, media-rich content for schools and families. A physics "flexbook" also was created to supplement traditional physics textbooks with emerging topics. As far as Virginia's schools have come, the bottom line is that schools everywhere always can use more tools when it comes to incorporating technology in the classroom -- especially free or affordable ones, given today's tight fiscal environment. It was with this in mind that the Verizon Foundation developed Thinkfinity.org, its signature program for education. Thinkfinity.org leverages technology for online learning and delivers tens of thousands of standards-based resources through 11 nationally recognized content providers, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Council of Teachers of English. All of the resources are available -- for free -- for teachers, students and parents. The Virginia Department of Education, through a grant from the Verizon Foundation, is providing teachers with training on how to incorporate Thinkfinity.org in the classroom to support student learning. Technology and instant, global communications have had a lot to do with driving the need for a more skilled work force, and that demand only will increase. Therefore, it's critical that the education system continue to encourage and find ways to integrate technology that will support 21st-century skills and better prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. Steve Clementi is external affairs director for Verizon in Richmond and manages the Verizon Foundation in Virginia. He can be reached at steve.clementi@verizon.com . To learn more about Thinkfinity, visit Thinkfinity.org.

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