The nonprofit Generation YES aspires to teach and empower students to use modern technology to solve problems in their schools and communities. With a strong research base and 18 years of experience, Generation YES projects and programs offer win-win solutions that benefit students, schools, and communities.
In 1996, the federal government funded the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant program. The primary goal of these grants was to fund innovative ideas, that once proven effective, that could be scaled to provides schools a model of technology integration and support. One hundred and four initial grants were funded, including GenYES.
Traditional professional development models have teachers learning technology skills with the hope of improving student learning. GenYES set out to prove the reverse is much more effective - training students with technology and pedagogical skills will help improve teacher's teaching and therefore student learning.
Over seventeen years, the GenYES model was refined and improved based on evaluation studies and feedback from the teachers and students involved. The model was tested and revised to accommodate different school settings, grade levels, and classroom profiles. This program has been run successfully in urban, suburban and rural settings, in elementary, middle, high school and vocational schools both in the U.S. and internationally.
Even with nationwide evaluations and studies, the schools that tested the model found out that they had to prove it to themselves - their local administrators, school boards, and districts. We designed a survey and report summary process that generates reports and summaries that schools can use to justify the "unusual" model of GenYES. We provide research and tools to help them do that.
Generation YES Today
The Generation YES staff is made up of students and teachers who have years of experience with real schools and classrooms. We collaborate with you to find solutions that fit your needs.
We partner with other innovative organizations and schools who are improving schools around the world. Some of the projects we are working on can be seen on the Projects page.
Over the years since the Innovation Challenge Grant ended, we have expanded the solutions we provide. We provide programs to help solve the issues faced in schools that relate to technology integration.
Our solutions are like no other--they rely on the potential of youth to help us solve the problems. It is our belief that with the right direction from dedicated educators, this potential is virtually unlimited.
Students represent more than 90% of the K-12 education population, and they likely possess 95% of the technology expertise in the school. Unquestionably, they are 100% of the reason that schools exist.
However, they are often left out of the equation when we plan, discuss and implement educational reforms. The technology innovations of the last several decades have not been integrated into most schools in a satisfying way for teachers, students, or administration. Why is this so? We believe that it is because the largest group of stakeholders in the process has been ignored - the students.
The question is how to harness the students' technology expertise and at the same time, expand their learning opportunities. This scaffolding method of taking what a student already knows and building on it is one of the basic tenets of educational theory, and has been proven time and again in research and in practice. How to take this theory and make a real working model out of it was the heart of a Technology Challenge Grant application submitted in 1995 by Dr. Dennis Harper, the Technology Director of the Olympia Washington School District.
Having students help out with technology is not a new idea. However, the goal of this grant was to document and prove that students could do more than just provide free labor and fix computers. Student projects could be authentic, meaningful improvements to the school technology goals - if the students understood what the school technology plan was, and were taught about pedagogy and learning. These projects could empower the student to participate in their own learning, and impact the learning of other students.
These projects could empower the student to participate in their own learning, and impact the learning of other students.
Students could be part of the school-wide goals of infusing technology into the school, and therefore become full stakeholders in the process.
Around the same time, the realization was setting in that traditional methods of professional development were not working for technology in the school setting. After-school workshops and in-services promised great things, powerful hardware could be purchased, and endless new versions of software could be upgraded, but rarely was there adequate support when teachers actually tried to use the technology.
Putting together the immense need for on-site, just-in-time technology support with the untapped resource of students who need authentic projects is the basis of the GenYES program today.