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Ignite More: 21st Century Engagement for 21st Century Education

Virtual Discussion on March 23, 2022

As we see a shift in the ways educational organizations, programs and institutions are engaging students during the digital revolution, especially in light of the Covid pandemic, there are greater opportunities for collaboration more than ever. 

This panel explored new, innovative ways to connect with educators, students, parents, learning platforms, organizations, and universities. From classrooms to digital communications, from pre-school to grad school, how is educational engagement changing? 

Panelists: 

Highlights:

Panelists mentioned a variety of new techniques they’re using to make the most of a post-pandemic landscape. For example, the University of Memphis now offers virtual tutoring, more flexible office hours, and online learning tools like EAB.com. Overall, “we’re moving to meet the student when and where they are,” said Cody Clinton, Director of Pre-Professional Advising for the University of Memphis. 

Porter-Leath’s Education Manager, Dr. Lashica Cox noted that younger students (pre-school aged) are less equipped for virtual learning. But the organization has gotten more involved in social media and things like Zoom and virtual field trips to bridge the gap. IStation.com and ClassDojo are helpful in early childhood education, but kids are also learning gross motor skills through music, learning through play, and mastering literacy through programs like Books from Birth.

“Engagement was still true, direct engagement during the pandemic, but how we carried that out changed,” said Jasmine Worles, Planning Advisor for Memphis-Shelby County Schools.

Literacy Mid-South started a “Lit Family Webinar” to engage whole families with helpful tips and resources to support successful literacy skills. The organization adapts with the local schools to meet their literacy goals and needs. “Literacy for a lifetime,” said Sam O’Bryant, Executive Director.

At Crosstown High School, there were no lockers, even pre-pandemic. Every student already had an iPad, and they were already using digital learning and communication tools like the Google Suite, which is a huge part of their curriculum. The bigger question is how teachers are using technology in in-person settings, not just at home. Since Crosstown High is constantly engaging with community partners as part of their project-based school, Zoom has made things like scheduling and accessibility easier.

“Our kids are digital natives,” said Ginger Spickler, Chief of Staff at Crosstown High School. They are passive consumers using technology to create.

At the University level, State and Federal investment, along with WiFi expansion have helped higher education costs get more reasonable. The level of communication has increased - it’s not just email anymore. Teachers use text messages and video, and in general over communicate to make sure students know how they’re doing in each class along the way. And in-person learning isn’t going away. The University of Memphis is opening new buildings, including a STEM center, with the mentality that “If you want to come here and you can, come!” At the same time, the University is expanding its geographical footprint, and has changed its tuition structure so it’s more affordable for out-of-state students to learn from anywhere.

Questions Addressed:

  • How has student engagement changed throughout your career?
  • What does educational technology look like in your role?
  • How have 21st Century developments changed the way you work with students/parents and other organizations?
  • How does technology change the thought process behind communication and educator-student relationships?
  • What conversations are you having internally, and externally about new digital platforms and ways to connect?
  • Methods that make sense for all parties involved?
  • What are your favorite new platforms? Tactics?
  • Is there a push to move more toward online schooling?
  • How does that affect younger students vs. college-aged?
  • What kind of 21st Century policy changes have you seen/do you expect?
  • Does the shift in student engagement affect school paperwork and bureaucracy? Increase/decrease? Improve or not?
  • What type of campaigns have you used to engage your stakeholders? Virtual, online, in the classroom, in the boardroom, or otherwise.
  • Is your organization/school/district changing its marketing strategy to accommodate more digital learners?
  • What do you think about “gamification” for education?

If you are interested in our Ignite More Series, head here to RSVP for Quarter 2’s event or to recommend a speaker.

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