For the 2007-8 and 2008-9 school years , California’s Fresno Unified School District accomplished historic gains in math achievement for K-6. The superintendent attributes the fast pace of success to a unique collaboration with California’s Long Beach Unified School District, using Cisco TelePresence.
The Fresno Unified and Long Beach Unified K-12 school districts have much in common, including tight budgets, high poverty rates among student families, and a strong commitment to improving student math scores. Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson and Long Beach Unified Superintendent Chris Steinheuser shared ideas when they saw each other at conferences, but realized that an effective partnership would require more frequent collaboration. Traveling the 250 miles to each other’s districts was not an option because of time and budget constraints, and telephone conversations come up short for strategic discussions.
Sharing Lessons Learned Without Travel
The districts found their solution in Cisco TelePresence. Each district has a Cisco TelePresence system, which provides a live, face-to-face experience over the network. A large, ultra-high-definition display and high-fidelity audio quality create an experience that rivals in-person interaction. And launching a Cisco TelePresence session “is as easy as it gets,” says Superintendent Hanson. “We push a button and Long Beach is on the other side.”
The Proof is in the Numbers
In spring of 2009, Long Beach Unified sent a group of math teachers to Fresno. While there, they and their counterparts from Long Beach joined a Cisco TelePresence session with other Long Beach teachers to talk about a common assessment framework. “In one day we completed a project that would have taken months without this technology,” Steinhauser says, noting that the two districts are “accomplishing more, faster, and at lower cost.” The results were swift and impressive. In the 2008-9 school year, 2000 more elementary school students in the Fresno Unified School District scored proficient or advanced in mathematics than in the prior year. “That’s 2000 lives, futures, and sets of promises that we now have to hold as they move through the system,” Hanson says. Long Beach Unified School District also gained from the collaboration. “[Cisco TelePresence] takes professional development to a level we haven’t seen,” Steinhauser says.
Muliplying the Gains
Now Fresno Unified is looking forward to replicating its math gains in middle school, as the first students to benefit from the collaboration move up. The district will capitalize on a winning formula by using Cisco TelePresence to get new ideas for the curriculum and learning strategies. California’s Garden Grove Unified and Oakland Unified School Districts are implementing their own Cisco TelePresence systems and will join the partnership, so that all four districts can learn from each other’s experiences.
For more info, watch the video of Superintendent Mike Hanson and Superintendent Chris Steinhauser discussing collaborating on math achievement with Cisco TelePresence.
Tags: california fresno unified school district, school district collaboration, TelePresence
Through effective use of technology every student can access learning and demonstrate their understanding in any way they choose. Text is no longer king; video, audio, animations, interactive models, diagrams and images all have an equal place in learning and learners select the medium that best help them learn and suits their culture and preferred learning styles. Key to learning, through whatever the medium is collaboration. Through conversations students make sense of what they have read, watched or listened to. Conversations take place with peers; between learners and teachers; and between learners and more knowledgeable others; and they take place in groups. Again technology is the key to enabling those conversations to go wider and deeper by allowing learners to interact with groups anywhere in the world through the use of social networking and other collaboration tools. Learners can find people to engage with who have similar interests or opposing views; with greater expertise or a new interpretation; through different geographical or cultural lenses. It is through these discussions that information is turned into knowledge and that knowledge is assimilated with existing knowledge to result in robust learning that can be applied in future situations.
The diagram above sums this up.
As a part of my job here at Cisco, I have the opportunity to meet with a range of customers in schools, colleges, and universities across the globe. They have the wide and vast responsibility of educating students, preparing the workforce of the future, equipping students with different kinds of skills so that they can compete in the 21st century, ensuring that students are safe and secure, and a whole host of other responsibilities that will enable students to be productive and successful members of society. Most critically, they have to do all this with increasingly constrained, and in developing nations, often non-existent, budgets.
The requirements for education have shifted over time as we have become more globalized, technologically advanced, and demographically different. On average, people in the US change jobs about ten times before they’re 42. In China and India, there is a massive demand for higher education. And teachers are retiring in record numbers as the population of kids under the age of 15 has reached 1.8 billion.
Thomas Friedman has said that students today need to be special, specialized, anchored, or adaptable. Not everyone can be special, and certain components of traditionally anchored jobs (for example, hairdressers, restaurant workers, and trade workers) can be outsourced. This leaves jobs for which people need to be specialized or adaptable. And this is where education is critical: students have to be able to access education that provides them with the specialization required to help them differentiate the value that they provide. Think, tax planning for customers with major offshore assets, or biological technicians who are creating a biosphere in pace. Or, education has to be able to provide them with the ability to obtain lifelong learning programs and capabilities to adapt to a broad range of careers and jobs that they will have over their lifetimes.
Existing systems on their own will no longer be able to meet the growing and changing demands for learning. Educational institutions must necessarily deliver learning differently, and this is where technology can help. Today, Cisco is partnering with educators to create what we call The Learning Society: a new way of thinking that harnesses the power of technology to help transform learning and allow people to learn anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Not only does Cisco offer a change model that integrates “best-of-the-best” research findings to help students flourish in the 21st century – wherever they are and whatever their culture or socio-economic status, or the economic situation of their country, may be (Education 3.0), but it also details the integration of innovative pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment strategies across whole systems—accommodating learner differences, linking learning to the real world, and setting high, yet realistic, expectations for every student. We encourage you to learn more by joining our Virtual Forum for Education Leaders on April 28th.
Tags: 21st century skills, 3.0, collaboration, cost, cost-savings, distance, education, efficiency, increasing access, learning, lifelong learning, preparing students for the future, savings
In a good education system, students move through school, graduate, and somewhere between 30 and 50% complete university. Formal training is complete, education is finished. People who were once students could relax and enjoy the benefits of the skills and networks they had developed through learning, and any decline in their skills would be offset by gains in experience and compensated for by the new generation of graduates coming through the education pipeline. This was an education system which was quite effective until the 21st century where we live in a more globalized and interconnected world.
Now, globalisation, accelerating technological change and massive demographic shifts demand a change in education systems: its purpose, where it happens, when it happens, how it happens. Since new technologies are appearing at such a fast pace, formal education in the first 20 years of life will only form a foundation for future learning. Lifelong learning will become a necessity, not a nice-to-have. And as the world shrinks, people in India or china or eastern Europe are competing with those in Indiana for jobs and those in Copenhagen collaborate with those in Cape Town. It is no longer good enough to be second best: everyone needs 21st century skills – not just better skills, but different skills.
To respond to this socio-economic shift, our education systems need to change. Curricula and pedagogy must focus on building skills for life and instilling a love for learning. We need to think about new ways of organising learning so that those who are currently excluded by geography, poverty or learning style have a real chance. Schools, colleges and universities need to open their doors, and become accessible centres of learning throughout life. And new partners, from the private sector to non-profits, to foundations need to become part of a wider coalition to deliver learning and drive continuous innovation and improvement.
Without these changes, we risk a difficult future: weaker economies, fragmented societies, unhappy people. Incremental reform is no longer enough – we must jointly take on the task of becoming a learning society.
Director, Cisco Global Education
Tags: 21st century learning environment, brain drain, cost-savings, distance, education, generation, higher education, learning, next generation learning
Visit us at Educause to learn more about our newest Cisco “Connected Insights” paper for Education, “Transforming Education, Transforming Lives.” As we find ourselves at the cross-roads of preparing the workforce of the future while facing one of the most daunting economic environments that many of us have ever encountered, we have the opportunity to work together to realize results and effect change. This white paper includes the latest thinking on how to address some of our most pressing challenges today.
Education is at the heart of human progress: educating students, driving innovation, and promoting social equity. The very best educational systems prepare people to be successful, productive, and engaged members of society. These systems provide appropriate knowledge, skills, and experiences, enabling students to obtain jobs that promote social equity and economic growth. Today, education is undergoing change at an unprecedented rate. To prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, today’s students need new skills, taught in new ways. Professors need to develop new material and deliver it differently. Parents expect greater involvement, and administrators need to constantly do more with less.
Cisco can help educators overcome these challenges. Our solutions drive cost savings, expand access to quality education, support learning transformation, improve student engagement, prepare the workforce of the future, and place schools, colleges, and universities at the heart of smart and connected communities.
Tags: connected insights, educause, transforming education, white paper