After making the long trek from Portland, Oregon, to Philly, I kicked off my ISTE 2011 experience with a student panel, moderated by director of the U.S. Education Department's Office of Education Technology Karen Cator, about how to integrate technology effectively into classroom instruction.
Five students talked about what they consider the most innovative technologies, characteristics of good digital citizens, and ways to tackle the digital divide. All of the students who spoke participate in the MOUSE program, a New York City-based nonprofit organization that trains students to provide technical support and leadership in underserved schools.
Tashi Lobsang, who goes to the International High School in Queens, New York, talked about his experience growing up in Tibet and then going to school in India before coming to International High School, which accepts only students who do not speak English as their first language. Technology is helping those students communicate more clearly, said Tashi, but there is still inequity in how much technology each school has available.
"The digital divide is not just between countries. It's within the country as well," he said. He also stressed the importance of setting up time for students who do not have Internet access at home to use school computers for learning.
All five students expressed support for mobile technologies for learning during the Q&A portion of the session. Zainab Oni, a student at Hudson High School in NYC—which has a 1-to-1 laptop program and electronic textbooks—recalled a time when she wrote an entire essay on her Blackberry while riding the train and was able to send it in to her teacher before the deadline. Mobile devices make learning quicker and more convenient, the students agreed.