Going Pro

Students benefit from exposure to professional technology.

GUEST COLUMN | by David Eisenberg

CREDIT Experts EchangeOne of my biggest challenges and biggest rewards as an educator, is ensuring that the lessons I’m teaching might be remembered long after class is over. Every good teacher pulls from experience outside of the classroom to create dynamic lessons that can excite students. My experience consulting as a nationally certified information technology project manager helps me identify how the best technology used by corporations can both excite students and meet Common Core State Standards.

Students light up with the enthusiasm when they know that what they’re learning inside the classroom directly applies to and even has an affect on world at large.

To make sure my use of technology in school is as relevant and up-to-date as possible, I often create assignments that interact with real-life professional platforms. That way, students can be given the sense that the work they do is connected to the exciting work that millions of individuals do on a daily basis. Students light up with the enthusiasm when they know that what they’re learning inside the classroom directly applies to and even has an affect on world at large.

Professional tools providing real-world context

Giving students the ability to ask and answer questions from real-life industry professionals, is one way to infuse the classroom with excitement of technology industry. One tool for example, that I’ve found extremely helpful in this regard, is Experts Exchange, an online tech community that real tech and business professionals use to crowdsource complex IT solutions.

When students know that professionals will be reading and responding to the technology questions for their own class projects, it makes that project seem truly relevant. Moreover, by facilitating my students’ use of Experts Exchange to pose real world questions, they not only better understand technology, but they’re exposed to the way tech is discussed in the real world. These priceless interactions give students hands-on experience in conversing about real issues with real professionals.

Each year, I give students an assignment to create a design and business plan for a massive online multi-player game, for which they must figure out the right hardware and software to use. The students use the exchange to find solutions and ask questions about their assignment, giving them experience in research, professionalism, and an opportunity to learn about the technology they’re using.

What’s more, by receiving feedback directly from industry experts, students are hearing a voice of instruction and encouragement that they know leads to a successful and exciting future. The questions my students ask might range from high-level computer programming, to topics as simple as using Microsoft Word. Literally anything that they can imagine, my students can ask and a high-level professional will respond as if addressing an important colleague deserving of their respect.

The benefit of professional tools on student growth

Experts Exchange goes beyond basic STEM education. In particular, I’ve noticed three clear impacts:

  • Enhanced skills in written composition and reading comprehension, within the context of STEM subjects and problems.
  • Improved self-esteem, character, and communication skills, as students realize that their contributions are taken seriously and responded to by true industry professionals of technology fields.
  • Enhanced career direction and motivation at a pivotal time in students’ development, which positively affects all areas of their education and scholastic achievement.

By using real-world platforms, students gain understanding of how their classwork is directly leading them toward a successful future. This strategy helps them to learn, enhance their creativity, gain a sense of direction, and set the stage for their future careers.

David Eisenberg is Educational Media Specialist at Mt. Olive Board of Education. Contact him via LinkedIn


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