Recently I attended an education focused event at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington and as a parent I found these discussions to be quite interesting. It was a global event with Microsoft partners from all over the world, system integrators, independent software vendors, publishers and software resellers. The topics centered on technology devices in the classroom. But really it all came down to how do you get students engaged and excited about school so that when they emerge they are college ready and career ready? The buzz words in business today are communication and collaboration, the same is true in education.
Continuing to be innovative in the classroom supports students’ development of skills that will help them thrive in the future. A Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Well, the tools for teaching and fishing have changed. Is the education system keeping up? Kids are digital natives and use technology day in and day out. They want to connect, just look at the boom in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and apps geared at young people.
As parents, teachers, schools, technology providers we need to collaborate and communicate to make sure our students are prepared for their future. An education should be a global right and all kids should be given the tools to master all concepts. When they are unable to master a concept before moving on the next more difficult concept students can quickly fall behind. This can result in frustration with learning over a lifetime. I heard an analogy about building a house. If you had your foundation poured and it was given a C grade inspection, would you want to go ahead and build your house on it? It is the same with our students; allow them to time to master a subject before moving them on. In our society slow has become synonymous with dumb which isn’t a true meaning. We need to allow the time and resources to build a good learning foundation for our kids.
In the corporate world subject matter experts (SMEs) are the rock stars of the technology industry. Teachers are the SMEs our kids look up to every day. Let’s give teachers to the tools to get that knowledge out there whether it Twitter, online learning videos or an educational blog. Those tidbits of communication can make learning more personal. Those teachers are our rock stars. I know my first grader thinks so about her teachers.
I also had the privilege of hearing Salman Kahn of Kahn Academy speak. His visionary organizations started as a way to tutor his nephews and today those free online learning videos are being used all over the world in numerous languages. Talk about exciting!
Another innovative teaching method in high schools is flipped classrooms, and it is proving successful in improving students’ grades. The teacher records lessons to video and put them in the cloud where the kids watch them for homework and then the class as a whole works the problems with the teacher allowing instant help for challenging concepts.
Making education personal is a key to engagement of students, teachers and parents. The school of the future provides a way for teachers, students and parents to communicate virtually (through IM and unified communications) and for students to be able to access learning materials anytime, anywhere with cloud-based technology. Another step in this journey is informed parents. Students and parents alike should be able to see grades in real time. Thus allowing for extra help at home or tutoring before the class has moved on to the next concept. Classroom dashboards that allow the teacher to easily track which students have mastered which concepts so that no student is left behind.
We all want better learning outcomes, and we have innovation and technology on our side to help us get there.
Steffanie Frazier, Marketing and Alliance Program Manager has over 13 years’ experience working in the IT consulting industry. As part of the Aspect Microsoft Professional Services team, she focuses on relationships within the US Public Sector. She manages the Microsoft alliance relationships in healthcare and education along with creating demand generation programs for Aspect’s innovative vertical solutions.
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