Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology

"The students are reaching far beyond the dreams they had as little children and into a world that has no limits."  
- Jeff Mathews, Principal, Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology

Watch this video and see just how fast and far our neighboring school system in Gwinnett has managed to leapfrog our schools.  This is the kind of high-tech learning and partnering with corporate sponsors happening in so many schools around the country - all while our school system flounders and sputters with unfocused, racially-biased leaders who will not place the most qualified, most serious and most capable leadership in place in order to bring our students into the 21st century with our neighbors and the world.

I learned about this Gwinnett initiative from T.H.E. Journal (Transforming Education through Technology). Click here for a list of k-12 topics to read up on or browse their extensive library of white papers and webinars.  You may need to set up a user account, but it is free and the information is cutting edge.

"The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." 
-- Futurist Alvin Toffler

One of my favorite topics has been about the use of iPads in schools. Folks, it's getting to be time to ditch the heavy textbooks.  Students today need to be internet and computer savvy if they are to function in the world.  This use of personal computers is the gateway to a lifelong love of learning. In addition to classroom lessons, students can find animated examples or video seminars on any topic at hand.  If they are struggling with a concept, they can check in with the Khan Academy during lunch or study time to have something explained.

Click here to read a post I republished featuring a school system in Massachusetts that implemented the iPad for 1 to 1 learning.  Systems all over the country are jumping on the technology bandwagon. Click here to read about Chicago city schools systemwide use of iPads.  I think DeKalb has an opportunity to think far outside of our current "box" and leap with both feet into the promising waters of personal computing for our students.

Just think:  Students could take their tests on their computers, giving them instant feedback and allowing for daily tracking of progress.  Our technical colleges in Georgia already use an online learning system called "My Learning Lab" where students do reading, comprehension, writing and math assignments and reap instant feedback as to what they understood, what they did not, and what sections they need to revisit.  It's so effective to understand immediately where you advanced and where you may have fallen down.  It's data collection at its finest and most powerful -- directly given to the user and his or her teacher.  Student data is stored in a mainframe cloud and can be revisited by future teachers in order to see where a student may need remediation. Instantly.  No scanning. No waiting for reports. No central office interference. That's why it's called 1 to 1.  Learning after all, is an individual endeavor in the end.

Let's take the leap.  Encourage your board member to hire a superintendent ASAP so that students can regain their lost momentum.  As a reward for their patience and perhaps a way to right a wrong, let's leapfrog other school systems and be the leaders in advanced learning -- One to One!


On a Good Note:  For a fine example of a brand new high tech initiative in DeKalb, read Kim's post about the new program coming to Cross Keys this fall. IMO, it's the best thing we have to offer students interested in engineering and technology. Encourage techie students you might know to apply!

RAMP Comes to Cross Keys to Serve Area High Schoolers


Kirk said...

Wow! What a dream. DCSS currently can not manage a contract to have functioning photocopiers in schools and you think they can purchase Ipads? Think of the opportunities for graft in that. DCSS has to clear out the current administration, central office and BOE, before any improvements can be made.

Cerebration said...

Truthfully, that's what's implied here. Our current leadership has for far too long held up any progress for students. They all must be replaced - starting with a future-focused, highly talented superintendent. But how do we get one when we have a board who simply can't agree on a candidate and who in fact, are willing to sabotage the process in order to get their way?

I just want people to know exactly what our students are missing -- due to the poor leadership and lack of vision in our school system.

Anonymous said...

This type of initiative is exactly why I will do everythimg I can to transfer to Gwinnett next year. Working with outdated technology and being given a host of answers as to why we cannot improve is not only embarassing--the students know better--but also supremely frustrating.

Gwinnett seems to be in touch with the needs of students, and that is attractive to me as a teacher. Add to that the difference in pay )and Gwinnett's retirement system, and it looks like greener grass to me!

Kirk said...

Speaking of outdated technology; the special ed students at Chamblee High School are forced to use a computer so old it runs 7(?) inch floppy discs and has a green monochrome monitor. It was the coolest tech in the 1980s.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Just think, Former BOE Chair, Francine Edward's son, Jamal, could get a free trip to Cupertino, CA, Apple's Home, to learn how to fix iPads. Good job if you can get it, just be a friend or family member of the current DCSS "Upper Class" or rather Palace management team.

Kim, I'm happy for Cross Keys. RAMP is a great program! I hope DCSS doesn't screw it up.

DCSS does NOT need triage, DCSS needs an intervention. An intervention of REAL educators to let the current management know that they are doing a lousy job and should resign..

I know, one could wish!

Kim Gokce said...

At the risk of sounding a flat note, I do not find the Lenovo piece very compelling.

Having laptops seems to be the feature of the video and how they are used in instruction. That is great but I think the beautiful building and the Lenovo laptops don't amount to much (though nice to have).

The part that is implied that is exciting is that the school has extremely qualified teachers who not only are expert in their subject areas but also able to incorporate high technology into the curriculum.

Computing technology is becoming a commodity. See what Google is up to know? They are partnering with manufacturers and mobility providers to deliver netbooks with built-in, no cost service:

Chromium Features

Entry point prices will continue to fall, capabilities will continue to expand, network access will drift towards low- to no-cost options.

So having a computer or mobility is not impressive at all - a school system with the competency to deliver these educational platforms is the trick. While Gwinnett and other systems are investing in the people and the relationships with technology companies, DeKalb is hosting cell towers.

There is an exceptional case, though. Thanks for mentioning the two new programs at Cross Keys. They are available to 10 area high schools and have the right people and resources - let's see if they fill up. Our parents can see what qualified instructors combined with technology and private sector support can deliver.

It's launching at CK in just a few weeks! My phone is not ringing - I hope the counselors' offices are! If you want to see programs like this in DeKalb, help me make it successful at Cross Keys and perhaps we can lead the leadership to an enlightened use of technology and technical instruction!

Kim Gokce said...

It's not about money - it's about being smart. Contemplate the support cost, the total cost of ownership for DCSS for something like this:

Chromebook Announced

Cerebration said...

I agree with you Kim. I'm not particularly impressed that they "have" laptops - I'm impressed that they "USE" them! These students are learning and functioning in a 21st Century way. I can't think of the last time I sat in a corporate meeting or a seminar where almost every single person had a laptop open and was typing on it, looking up websites for reference, exchanging files with others at the meeting or simply working on presentations or ideas.

This is the way real work is done in the real world nowadays. I'm just happy to see a high school that gets that!

Cerebration said...

Chrome is amazing and will change everything! In fact, one of my clients is about to launch an initiative using Chrome corporate-wide. (This is a lot of employees we're talking about!)

Kim Gokce said...

The way we think about computing in general, and in education in particular, has to catch up to this:

What is Google Chrome OS

Business can't tell Education how to educate but it sure as hell can tell Education how to communicate, how to manage operations, and how to leverage technology.