5 Ways Schools Can Make Learning Relevant for Students

Whether it's social media or makerspaces, schools need to get with the digital times and give up control, an education leader argues.

by / November 10, 2014 0
Eric Sheninger talks about how to make learning work for students at TedxBurnsvilleED. Screenshot of the talk by Tanya Roscorla

All too often, school is about what works for adults -- not about what works for students. But as learning becomes more digital, some education leaders say it's time to design learning for students' needs so they can learn with tools in spaces that work for them. 

While it's hard to do, schools must give up control, trust students and then watch student learning happen, said Eric Sheninger, the former principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey who is now a senior fellow and thought leader on digital leadership at the International Center for Leadership in Education. Students want to use the digital tools they're so engaged in at home, but too often, schools don't allow them in, and they see a disconnect between school and real life. There are only two choices: Find a way to make school work for students or make excuses.

"Bring school and life together to give students the relevance they need, deserve and expect," Sheninger said in a talk at TEDxBurnsvilleED.

Schools can take five steps to make school work for kids.

1. Teach students how to use social media to demonstrate learning, engage in conversations and drive change. 

2. Allow students to do real world work with their own devices, which enhances learning, increases student productivity and allows them to do research.

3. Create makerspaces for students so they can play, fail and learn. 

4. Create real world environments and spaces for students that include charging stations, coffee carafes, games and couches.

5. Open up blended and virtual learning options to personalize learning for students.

Tanya Roscorla Former Managing Editor

Tanya Roscorla covered ed tech from 2009-2017.