I was intrigued by Ken King’s recent post regarding North Carolina telecom executives supporting Dr. Goodnight’s call for education reform.In fact, it brought to mind an education customer we’ve been working with lately. The school is in a rural community that has implemented a 1:1 laptop initiative and is using SAS Curriculum Pathways. An interesting point I’ve heard the teachers make is that the kids now love working with the online content within SAS Curriculum Pathways, but at first it was a cultural shift for them.
I was very surprised by this since when I look at the product, I would have loved to have used it in school. So, we asked the teacher why this was the case. She mentioned that now the students HAVE to be engaged in class, and that using SAS Curriculum Pathways MAKES the students think. It seems that the students were used to the 20th century curriculum of being lectured to. This was something that would not have occurred to me. However, it perfectly fits in with Dr. Goodnight’s comments about keeping children engaged in class and using technology that students are used to in their personal lives. It also supports Bruce Friend’s recent post, Students’ speak up on Technology in the classroom. Students do want to use technology and consider it invaluable and inseparable part of their life. It would be interesting to me to apply that same survey to students at schools like the one I mentioned above. I think the results would show the progress that has been made to marry technology and curriculum resulting in student engagement and success.
Also in Ken’s post, he mentions that communication service providers, such as AT&T and others, are taking interest in helping schools with funding for 1:1 laptop initiatives. I think this is a wonderful idea with one caveat. It is not just the technology that will make the schools (and thus the students) successful. It is the marriage of three things: the hardware, online curriculum and professional development. Having met recently with several successful schools, they all emphasize these three areas. In the case of the school I mentioned above, they took teachers out of class for 3 days for intensive training on both the hardware and on SAS Curriculum Pathways. At first the teachers were apprehensive about being out of their classes so long; however, after the training they all expressed that it was very important for them and made a true difference in educating their students.
Most people are apprehensive about change but often come to appreciate change once it occurs. The students and the teachers at this inspirational school were both unsure about the new technology in their classroom. But now that they’ve implemented it, everyone is enjoying the benefits. In fact, the teachers were impressed by the content in SAS Curriculum Pathways. They mentioned that without SAS Curriculum Pathways, they would have to personally go search and find all that content themselves which would be 20 times more time consuming- time that they don’t have in their already busy schedules and time that could be better utilized in helping students learn.