High School Students Building Skills for the Future of EdTech

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Read about this great student engagement project supported by the Waterloo Region District School Board and D2L's team of developers.

What do you get when you combine a group of talented high school and elementary students with a team of expert D2L developers and designers? For starters, you get a glimpse into the future of education technology. In January, the Waterloo Region District School Board, in association with D2L, got together to develop new and innovative apps resulting from a semester-long challenge that encouraged students to design and market new technology. The full article has the details about what they came up with.

The resulting tech shows real world value

This project produced many elements that support student engagement. Not only were students excited to participate in a project that could have a positive impact on their careers and academic paths, but the apps that they developed show real value. Many of the resulting ideas were solutions that addressed specific areas of student life, such as: efficiency problems, schedule tracking, and time management issues. When designing new education-specific technology, it’s essential that end users (those who will benefit the most from the technology) have an opportunity to provide feedback and take part in the development process. So with that in mind, a Grade 8 class participated in the project by providing the need at the beginning of the project and feedback at the end.

Kassia Kukurudza, a D2L Customer Advisory Consultant and huge advocate for EdTech was lucky enough to work alongside students as they developed their products. “This project was a fantastic example of authentic, inquiry-based learning,” she says. “It was very inspiring to see the growth and progress of all the students, from the early planning through the development stage and finally into their presentations at the tech fair.”

Mentorships that build careers

Waterloo District students had the opportunity to work alongside the D2L team. They were given an inside look at the way in which a modern technology company operates. Whether or not they choose to apply for jobs in the EdTech industry, students got a glimpse into the options afforded by their experience and education. Of course, if they were interested in applying at D2L, that would be okay too.

Nick Oddson, Senior Vice President of Product Development at D2L was wholly impressed with the level of innovation and inquiry demonstrated by these students who were on par or even beyond the skills seen at the post-grad level. In his words of advice, he tells students, “every single one of you has the ability to make something that impacts the world. And you have learned that the innovation process is to fail and try and fail and try until you succeed.”

Student engagement means making it fun

The future of innovation in EdTech is looking bright. We’re excited to see what new ideas these students come up with. You never know what might integrate nicely into our own learning environment.

Whatever your plan is to increase student engagement, the key is to make it fun, accessible and valuable. If you’re an educator that’s doing something similar to help inspire your students, we’d love to hear from you. Whether it’s partnering with a tech company or local group, we think that you should share your story in the hopes of getting other excited about doing the same.

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