Creating the Tech Leaders of Tomorrow: How to Inspire Your Students to Lead in the Digital Age
There’s no denying that the digital age has transformed education. However, education in this time of technological transformation needs to extend beyond the question of “How can we incorporate technology and digital tools into the classroom?” and into the realm of “How can we better prepare today’s students to be leaders in technology tomorrow?”
Successfully preparing students to become future technology leaders requires a good deal more than simply equipping students to go off to college to study engineering, computer science, mathematics, or another technology-related field. It requires fostering curiosity, collaborative skills, and a willingness to try — and fail — in their quest to find new solutions and explore new ideas. Teachers, Ed techs, and other educators can support this effort by inspiring their students in a variety of ways.
1. Introduce Them to Current Leaders
Bringing inspirational speakers into the classroom is one of the most effective ways to inspire your students’ thinking and spark new ideas — and new dreams. Listening to stories and advice from current technology leaders will give your students new perspectives on what they can do with their own lives, and help guide them toward decisions that will put them on a path toward leadership. Guest speakers in the classroom can also add new dimensions to your lessons and inspire students to explore new ideas and different directions.
2. Incorporate Technology Into the Classroom
Students today are more connected than ever before, and classrooms are quickly following suit. To truly foster a new generation of leaders, though, teachers need to actively incorporate technology into learning, facilitating their use of new technologies like online streaming and collaboration. Encouraging students to collaborate with each other using online tools like Google Classroom, for example, helps them develop the leadership skills like communication and problem-solving that are in high demand moving into the next decade, while also helping students learn from each other. Using online streaming technologies, you can open a whole new world to your students, connecting them with leaders in different fields, while also giving them the hands-on skills that they’ll need to be competitive in the new world.
3. Support Curiosity
Current leaders in technology note that one of the key components to success in software development and related fields is unrelenting curiosity. A willingness to not only ask questions, but find the answers, is vital to uncovering the new ideas that will change our world. Teachers have a responsibility to foster this curiosity and encourage students to observe the world around them and develop empathy for others, so that they can better understand problems and what’s required to solve them. Give students space to play, to experiment, and test out their ideas, and support them as they search for answers to their questions.
Above all, support students as they uncover their passions. Success in technology requires being passionate about some aspect of the process, whether it’s writing code, improving user experience, or analyzing data or something else entirely. When students are passionate, they will find reasons to explore every aspect of that interest, and it’s your job as an educator to help them determine what that “thing” will be. When you’re successful, you’re setting your students on the path to success in technology leadership.
4. Make It Real
Learning experiences are almost always more effective when they are hands-on, real-world experiences. Learning about technology in a theoretical sense is important, but real-world experience is invaluable when it comes to applying and testing knowledge. Assign projects that require students to solve real problems, and give them the tools they need to test their ideas. As Design Thinking becomes more firmly intertwined in both the classroom and in technology development labs, skills in identifying problems and testing new ways of solving them are going to become more important. Not to mention, giving your students to opportunity to apply their learning in a meaningful, tangible way also helps them to build their portfolios and better represent their knowledge, which will help them down the road as they pursue new opportunities.
Creating the technology leaders of tomorrow requires more than just giving students technical skills. By fostering the qualities that make excellent leaders, you can set your students on the right track and give them a solid foundation that will take them — and our digital world — to new heights.