ISTE Standard #1 (or, if you will, MITECS Competency #1) describes “Empowered Learners” as “Students [who] leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences” (emphasis mine). Leverage, in this sense, means that students use technology to its maximum advantage. The standards go on to describe how this can occur, which includes such student actions as:
- setting personal learning goals
- reflecting on the learning process
- building learning networks
- customizing their own learning environments
- using technology to seek feedback and demonstrate learning in multiple ways (UDL)
- understanding fundamental concepts of technology
- transferring knowledge and exploring new technologies
All of these contribute to what constitutes a “good” use of technology in our learning environments. They describe how technology can and should be used to maximum advantage. And again, these are not just things that ought to be happening during one elective hour of computer applications. These are things that should be embedded into every class to at least some extent.
The Opposite of Leverage
Considering the antonyms of the noun leverage reveals that to which many students (and not just students, people in general, including adults) consign themselves by not learning how to use technology to its maximum advantage: powerlessness, helplessness, inadequacy, incapacity…
We work against technology and its potential for students when we fail to help students set legitimate personal learning goals, when we do not give them opportunities to reflect on the learning process and technology’s role in it. We prevent opportunity when we don’t allow students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways, when we solve their technical issues for them instead of encouraging them to troubleshoot on their own and helping them to be resourceful in doing so. We fail to help students leverage technology when we treat technology as simply another mode of learning, when we exhibit technophobia instead of embracing technology, and when we otherwise relegate choices of including technology to a position of mere preference or option. And we will most certainly sell students short in every one of these if we fail to capitalize on the gains we’ve made in regard to using technology throughout the current pandemic.