The 21st century classroom : integrating educational technology with 21st century competencies in support of workforce development



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Information and communication technology demands are increasing across a range of occupations, creating intense global competition for highly-skilled workers. In order to meet the economic needs of the next century, education reform must prioritize student-directed learning that fosters innovation and creativity, enabling the United States to compete internationally in attracting and creating high-quality jobs for its citizens. Our system must strive to create lifelong learners and ensure equity in preparing all students for college- and career-readiness, which increasingly, are considered one in the same. Manor New Technology High School, in Central Texas, has successfully used technology immersion and project-based learning to expand the opportunities for its minority-majority population. Emphasis is placed on teaching students how to learn and in making authentic learning connections with the world through applied, and interdisciplinary coursework. An understanding of how educational technology can be used to create better student outcomes, through investment in teacher peer-to-peer supports to effectively integrate technology into instruction, has led to a sustainable and scalable model of technology immersion at Manor Independent School District. Through its partnerships with local businesses and not-for-profit organizations, Manor New Technology High School is graduating highly skilled and college-bound students, while concurrently promoting sector-based economic development within the high-tech industry. State educational agencies are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of workforce development; therefore, new mechanisms and incentives should be created to encourage and enable school districts to pursue 21st Century competencies (analytic skills, interpersonal skills, ability to execute, information processing, and capacity for change), which are enabled through the “invisible tool” of educational technology in the classroom.