Today we finish up our four part series on the Acronym EAST and look at one of the most visible components of the EAST environment, the technology.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw one of my students actually make an animation movie. He had been working on the modeling for several weeks and had set the paths and whatnot. The scene rendered for two straight days and he brought us together and pushed play with a pride and flourish. We all watched with a well-earned pride as major 30 second clip of a tropical fish swam in a gorgeous CGI ocean. Wow, right? Weeks of work, days of waiting and then it was over in the blink of an eye. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely!
The “T” in EAST exists specifically to challenge, build, and serve our larger goal of helping our students to grow into their potential. Technology is the last word in EAST and in many ways the most visible. If you only see the technology, though, I would caution that you’re missing the point.
It is a cliché to say that technology is just a tool, but the cliché exists for a reason: it’s true. The difference between EAST and other educational models; however, is that we believe in giving students access to LOTS of tools, not just one or two, and we believe that we should give our students the best tools not just the “good enough” ones. Students in the EAST classroom have access to over 50 different applications in a dozen or so areas that are all “cutting edge” and exciting.
The technology is not there for its own good, however, it serves several very important purposes:
1) Giving students access to industry standard tools helps them to gain experience in the skills that will make them much more sought after in college and the workforce. In this way EAST is meeting the challenge of my favorite Governor who has spent six years stumping the state with a common sense message that education and economic development go hand in hand. What better way to develop the knowledge-based, creative, entrepreneurial leadership and workforce of the next generation.
2) The technology in EAST is complex and complicated. There is not an “easy button” on the programs. While most are very intuitive, they require a level of sophisticated thinking that cannot be taught. It must be developed through real-world application. This fosters complex thinking skills that cannot be simulated. That means just by using the software it helps our students become more creative and intuitive. In an ever-changing world this is an invaluable skill.
3) The technology that is available to our students in the EAST classroom allows them to offer service to their community that is unmatched. While the “hearts and hands” model of service is very important, the capability to provide sophisticated help through the technology tools puts our students in a role of community entrepreneurs that no other educational program can match. Being an equal partner with community and civic leaders as they take on projects builds up capacity that also cannot be simulated.
4) Finally, the technology is a strong attractor for our students. They crave this level of access and engagement, and far too often it is lacking in their more traditional classes. This generation lives in a technology pervasive world; they should get the opportunity to use their natural skills in this area in school not just outside of it and not just as a standalone exercise in other classes. They want to learn and use the technology and EAST gives them the chance to do just that.
The T in EAST helps to set it apart from other service oriented programs, but we know that it also helps to build better students. It gives them the chance to hone their skills and show their stuff while providing service. What a great marriage of mission and training. The T in EAST helps to assure that our students will not only meet the needs of the modern world, but will lead in their efforts.