New technologies are transforming Minnesota classrooms

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Thanks to Ann Higgins for the heads up on a recent article in the Brainerd Dispatch that fits in so well with a recent Blandin Foundation Pre-Conference webinar.

The Brainerd Dispatch reports…

The Brainerd School Board Curriculum Committee Tuesday heard from representatives from Cisco Systems, Inc. on the educational benefits of upgrading the district’s technology. Steve Velner and Ed Vince of Cisco spoke to the committee.

It’s great to hear that more schools looking at integrating technology – especially after hearing how successful technology planning has gone in and around Itasca. On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of listening to School superintendents Matt Grose and Mark Adams from the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative and Paul Thon from Cisco will talk about the work they’re doing to bring technology to Itasca County schools and the communities in which they reside. (You can access the archive online.)

It was interesting to hear about how much planning goes into something like a technology collaborative. They were planning for something like 14 months before technology implementation.

The first step was figuring out where they were going and making decisions (technology, management and other) to get them there. One example that struck me was the need to get all schools on the same schedule – both in terms of vacation but also class periods.

If schools are going to collaborate on classes remotely, they need to have the same start and finish time – or as they said, bell times. In other words, the schools had to be literally in synch before the technology could make a difference.

In the webinar, you can hear more about the planning details and the successes. For example, before the technology was in place, there were no Spanish classes in Itasca Schools. With the technology, the schools are able to share a Spanish teacher and can now take classes. Now that the technology is in place – the school has been able to offer Ojibwe language classes as well. It’s great to hear about the successful Spanish and innovative Ojibwe!