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Katy ISD: “Re-Inventing” Education

August 1, 2012 - 2 Comments

Forty-three years ago my parents sat on their couches in front of a black and white snowy television. They watched intently as Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the surface of the moon. Fifteen years later, they bore witness to the invention of the first Macintosh personal computer. Five years after that, they stood by as the Internet was made available to the public. Last night, I watched as my mom used her iPhone to connect to an Apple TV unit via Wi-Fi. In doing this, she was able to flip through online Netflix movies on our Television. In the past 50 years, technology has evolved exponentially; the world and its inhabitants have evolved with it.

I am a student at the University of Oregon and a Cisco intern. Currently, I support Cisco’s Education Marketing Team. This blog portrays my thoughts on the technological transformation to a BYOD teaching model made by the Katy Independent School District.  I will also discuss my perspective on why technology in teaching and learning is a natural and important step in the “re-invention” of the traditional education model.

In a recent interview, John Chambers spoke of Cisco and the future. He stated that in order to maintain and advance Cisco’s place in the industry, “…we must re-invent ourselves.” I was intrigued by the statement. What is re-invention and why is it important? As it pertains to Cisco, high technology is an industry that is constantly changing. In order to thrive as a company, Cisco must be ever-changing by continuously increasing value to Cisco customers. Just as Cisco strives to re-invent itself, the education industry must do the same. My generation (The Millennials) has been immersed in technology from the moment we were born. As I mentioned in my previous blog, “BYOD: Transforming the current education model,” technology is a part of who our generation is:

“Roughly half of Students (49%) consider the Internet to be close in importance to water, food, air, and shelter in their lives; and one-third of respondents in each subgroup consider the Internet to be as important as these critical needs.” 

The Cisco Connected World Technologies Report

These trends won’t stop at our generation. My sister, who is now five years old, knew how to browse the pictures on my dad’s iPhone from the time that she was three. Now, she frequently plays games on the phone, interacts with T.V. shows, and uses other technology devices. I’ve heard of two other cases where young children have opened a magazine and attempted to slide their fingers across the pages in attempt to manipulate the images. Technology will be ingrained in the next generation of students even more than it is in the current one.

If the world and its inhabitants continue to transform, why hasn’t education?

Education is comparable to the period of Japanese history where the nation isolated themselves from the rest of the world from the early 17th to mid-19th century. During these 265 years of the Edo era, Japan had little to no contact with the outside world. Naturally, when the nation re-surfaced, the world was a different place, and they were over two centuries behind. Like Japan, education hasn’t evolved as the rest of the world has and now, the industry is behind. Four decades ago, my parents sat in wooden desks with their peers, listened to a teacher standing in front of room, and scribbled down notes from a blackboard. Today, my brother and I do nearly the exact same thing.

Today, I can’t imagine returning to the digital-less days of my high school career. With exception to a select number of classes, where I was able to use AutoCAD to design houses and Photoshop to enhance photographs for projects, the use of technology in school was prohibited. These classes, where I was able to use technology tools, were perhaps the most engaging and enjoyable moments that I had in high school. So much so, that I would frequently spend extra time working on projects outside of class. However, the majority of my high-school classes held the traditional lecture-discussion format. This monotonous and predictable structure left most students, including myself, drowsy and drained by the conclusion of the 90-minute block period. Ironically, I attended one of the strongest high schools in the Silicon Valley.

When used correctly, technology has the ability to enhance education and break the traditional mold. Teaching and learning can be made, multi-dimensional, and individualized; a structure that makes it possible to draw students in as opposed to turning them away. Katy ISD found a way to re-invent their education system and the results have been astounding. A three phase process evolved into a highly successful BYOD education structure; a structure that has resulted in increased student engagement and positive learning outcomes. As the world progresses and students continue to demand technology, educators must find a way to re-invent the traditional education system. If leveraged correctly, this technology has the power to drastically improve student and teacher engagement as well as learning outcomes.

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  1. Well I live in Mexico and technology haven´t got this penetration in schools, however as you said it is very important to use it with a well designed plan, security measures, education about the right use of technology and on going maintenance of the network infrastructure to make it work. Training to teachers and students, etc… This is changing the world and its definitively a new way of learning in a more realistic way. Very interesting post!

    • I couldn’t agree more. The execution plan is one of the most important, and challenging, aspects of a successful technology initiative. It’s very exciting to see that schools are finding new and innovative ways to approach this topic. You’re right – The world is changing!

      Thanks for your comment!