The World Innovation Summit for Education(WISE) is an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. Launched in 2009, WISE is an international initiative and platform for a multitude of established and new educational actors to collaborate proactively all year round. There will be 1200 attendees from 45 countries, including greater than 25 country-level Ministers of Education in attendance at this Qatar meeting discussing potential global and regional impacts on teaching and learning. At the Wise Summit in Doha, Qatar, November 1-3, Cisco is one of only two major technology companies presenting at the conference. Another great visibility opportunity for Cisco in helping “transform Education, together.”
“The economic challenges that began in 2007 continue to have a lasting effect on our society, and the education sector has been one of the hardest hit. In total, 85 percent of the country’s 14,000 school districts have been forced to slash their operating expenses.” (Innovation in Tough Times) This contraction has left many educators in a difficult position. Yes- there have been many negative outcomes that have resulted because of the downturn, but there is a silver lining.
Education has changed little to none in the past 150 years. I am a member of the millennial generation, and I have been a participant of the public education system for almost 14 years. Overall, I have had a decent experience. However, the experience that I had was nearly identical to the one that my parents had over two decades ago. For me, almost every school day was indistinguishable. Monday through Friday I’d reluctantly wake up at the unearthly hour of 7 AM, rush to school, sit through six hours of lecture, go to practice, come home and unload my 30 pound backpack stuffed with outdated textbooks, then read and prepare for yet another day of school that awaited me the next morning. Frankly, this monogamous chain of events caused me to disengage with the learning process.
I am a member of the millennial generation, and I have been exposed to the education system for nearly 14 years. Recent analysis of Cisco’s International Education Survey prompted me to reflect on my experience as a student. This passage is the second in a two-blog series that portrays my perspective on how and why technology will benefit every facet of teaching and learning.
This blog represents my interpretations on technology’s aid in the evolution of how teachers teach.
On July 19th, the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina will be hosting a 3-day symposium called “Summer Connections 2011”. The training program will detail how Mooresville took a technology initiative four years ago and transformed itself into one of the largest success stories in USA K12 public education today. The symposium will bring together superintendents, administrators, technicians, teachers – and millennial students -- all interested in learning the Mooresville recipe, and how to bring that back to their home districts.
What is the story? It’s simple, really. Two points – 1. Test score changes over the four-year period have been profound -- proving the technology initiative was wildly successful, and 2. It’s a district-wide success story – all 8 schools have seen a significant rise in test scores. Not just a high school here or intermediate school there. Since 2007, Mooresville district-wide dropout rates are down 20%; at the Mooresville High School graduation rates are up from 64% to 86%; District North Carolina composite scores are up from 73% to 86% in 2010, with the District arcing toward 90% in 2011. It’s now the 4th highest achieving school district in North Carolina, even though it ranks 99th out of the 115 state districts in school funding.
Do youth engage in valuable learning experiences via technology? The answer is yes but what they are learning usually pertains to being adept with social engagements. This doesn’t align to the learning their parents and educators care most about, i.e. academic learning. Not to say learning social skills isn’t important to parents and educators but paramount is academics.
So how can technology disrupt the academic learning dynamic as effectively as it has disrupted the process for becoming more adept with social engagements? A new PBS documentary, Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, explores this subject in depth. View an excerpt from the documentary below.
A recent Cisco press release details how world educators believe technology can be leveraged to transform learning. A key highlight for me was:
Video and collaboration technologies are rapidly allowing educators to be more effective and productive in teaching, anytime, anywhere. This can increase productivity by reducing travel between schools or even countries, decreasing the cost of travel downtime. “Presence” technology is becoming an emerging factor in teacher training and staff development areas; at the same time, increasing the availability of collaboration tools is fostering new “project-based” learning environments.
For anyone not on board with introducing technology to youth at early ages and within their learning environment, school, consider this…if they don’t learn early how are they going to fair against those who do?
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer
Are we providing a disservice when we don’t integrate technology with the learning process?
“Literacy has always been defined by the technology. Before the printing press your ability to orally recite something meant to be literate. So as technology has made things cheaper we are now saying well hmm ‘is someone literate if they cannot critique media, take media in, if they are only taking in traditional text’? That’s a question to answer today but what would that mean in 2020? I would venture to say that they won’t necessarily be considered as being literate.” Nichole Pinkard, Digital Youth Network Program Founder, Visiting Associate Professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University
Interest driven learning is a proven concept, so how do we use technology to enable youth to find their interest?
“Every kid has an interest. Sometimes he doesn’t know what it is, sometimes he can’t articulate it but every kid has an interest. That is a fundamental belief. If you can’t buy into that then you can’t buy into the work we do.” Diana Rhoten, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Startl
In the PBS documentary Quest to Learn (which I mentioned in a previous blog post on gamification techniques) is heralded by the students as the ‘school of the future’. They applaud the use of technology and games to help them understand system based thinking and the process of trial and error. Katie Salen, Director, Quest to Learn expounds on why it is was time for Quest to Learn now!
I am awed by what these folks are looking to accomplish. It makes me wish I was 10 again as I believe learning integrated with gamification techniques, digital media tools and other technologies would have made me actually EXCITED to go to school.