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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Let Students Innovate

Dominick Recckio

I am a student at Ithaca College in New York.

Today's high school students are creative and have a strong aptitude for technology. And many of us are interested in making our high school experience better, not just for ourselves, but for our peers as well. Studying and a strong work ethic will always help to take students to the next level, and are certainly perfectly viable options to create one's own path to success. But many of us are available and interested in helping our schools innovate through new technologies.

Barriers to Student Innovation

I am one of the lucky few -- I'm involved in student government, and therefore I have the means to get my ideas out to the administration in my school. But what about the majority of students who feel like they have no say in the environment in which they learn? Every day there are students who get scared away from bringing ideas forward. I know, because I used to be one myself. These students feel limited in getting their ideas out, because the world right above them is less focused on getting them prepared for college and the real world (where innovation is crucial), and more focused on the money and financial implications of everything that goes on in a school. And yes, while money is important, even more so is creating a great environment for students to learn material and life skills.

Creating a Path to Student Innovation

Students are often looked down on by teachers, and while it is very important that students respect their teachers, there should be flexibility for students to suggest things that may help the faculty, and in turn, the students. It shouldn't be taboo for a student to request a teacher do something a little differently. While teachers are trained professionals, the students are ultimately the product of the teachers and school at which they learn. Students always have things to say that follow along the lines of, "I wish Mr.____ did this differently," or "If we used this technology in this class, we would definitely do better!" The gap between the ideas and their proper presentation needs to be bridged.

Students often know more about upcoming technology than the older generations, and are willing to put their skills to work. I have two examples from my school that have made a difference.

1) Use Google Docs

Last year we began to use Google Docs for our newspaper. What we did was to upload each article into a bank where all of the student writers and editors could chat, as well as edit in real time. It was a huge improvement, and once the newspaper started to use Google Docs, teachers and other students realized what a great tool it could be and started using it themselves.

2) Create a Social Media Team

We also recently added a social media team to our emerging media group (completely initiated and executed by students), and the reviews have all been positive. The team gets the word out to a captive audience about school events and announcements. Students need to be given an atmosphere where they feel that things like this can have a positive impact, and are needed for success.

Students that I have talked to, both in my community and from around the US, believe that schools need to seriously encourage students to help get their ideas out, and to help to innovate. The possibilities today in technology are endless, and schools can hit two birds with one stone by allowing students to help innovate. By listening to student ideas, thoughts and concerns, the school is not only positively engaging its students, but at the same time making the school a better, more stable and caring learning environment.

Dominick Recckio

I am a student at Ithaca College in New York.
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