When I walked into the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, I immediately realized this was not at all like the high school I went to. The buzz was palpable.

First, I noticed students in the hall with cameras directing projects for Rough Cut Productions. This is not just a video class; Rough Cut is a real-life media production team made up of current and former students.

At the same time, students were in the library researching their senior capstone projects on laptops. Others were busy in the school’s makerspace, engineering and building electronics and computer software.

“We believe students should use technology as a tool to enhance their learning.”

Technology propelling students

Science Leadership Academy is the future. This school uses technology to support students in designing, creating and exploring new concepts to help them own their learning journey. Students have the digital tools they need to support the collaborative and highly creative learning philosophy of the school. This fits in perfectly with the mindset of today’s learners who are more attracted to creating their own media content than simply watching what Hollywood spoon-feeds them.

But just having technology doesn’t guarantee effective learning. If technology is just used as a tool for delivering passive content, essentially a digital textbook, it falls far below its potential to empower students and close long-standing opportunity gaps.

We believe students should use technology as a tool to enhance their learning. As they’re learning writing, they should be able to tap into the same tools that professional writers use. When learning chemistry, they might have access to virtual reality chemical labs that allow them to conduct experiments in a safe way that may not otherwise be possible in a school.

Benchmarks for learning

To help all schools use technology effectively, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provides a set of benchmark standards, a framework for using technology to enhance learning, teaching and leading. The ISTE Standards framework is a road map for educators as they navigate decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional learning and how to reimagine learning in the digital age. The standards provide a framework for developing good digital citizens at an early age, capable of acting responsibly online and recognizing valid sources of information.

This is an exciting and important time in education. The stories in this section bring to life the ways educators and their students are leveraging technology to deepen learning. If we’re able to use technology effectively, we’ll create schools where all learners can experience meaningful and impactful learning today — and be able to thrive in tomorrow’s connected world.