In today’s world of education there are continuous changes that can either take a school or school system to the next level of academic growth and development or rip a once vigorous group of people into minimal and divisive shreds. As a principal and leader in the education field I am constantly dealing with disruptive innovation—which can be both good and bad, depending on how it manifests—and I am also seeing many different learning paradigms that are being used and promoted all at once. The paradigms that I am referring to simply have to deal with the explosion of education technology platforms.
Bridging the Digital Divide through Partnership
Recently at my current school we’ve formed a symbiotic partnership with Verizon and Digital Promise (an independent, bipartisan nonprofit). My current school is one of eight middle schools in the country to be accepted into this partnership with Digital Promise and Verizon. Digital Promise’s main mission is to bridge the “digital divide” by improving all opportunities for students to learn through technology and research. The partnership with both of these entities has fostered a one to one program that features every student having temporary ownership of their own Samsung Galaxy 10.3 tablets.
The influx of technology from Digital Promise, Verizon, and other technology entities has been combined with our current STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program in Wake County Public Schools. Wake County’s STEM program is the result of yet another partnership, that has been gained from working with North Carolina State University. The main emphasis of the STEM program is students’ development of STEM projects through the STEM engineering process:
The STEM Engineering Design Process
- Research – Locating information for a potential project
- Feasibility – Evaluation and analysis of a potential project
- Conceptualization – The production of ideas in order to search for pros and cons in the project
- Establishing the Design Process – Hardware and software parameters that control the design of the project
- Preliminary Design – Bridges the gap between the design concept and the detailed design phase
- Detailed Design – builds upon the already developed FEED (Front-End Engineering Design)
- Production Planning and Tool Design – planning the mass production of the project
- Production – the finalization of the product
Through these various partnerships, my students are being exposed to a variety of opportunities, both regarding the use of new technology and regarding an emphasis on skill sets, such as those in STEM, that will prepare them for the future needs of the world.
Looking Toward Tomorrow
As an educator, I am often reminded of these quotes from Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow,” as well as, “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” These quotes place maximum value on what we need to learn (as educators and students alike), and on looking forward to maximizing tomorrow’s technology through today’s educational exploits.
Donnell McLean is an Educator and Principal from North Carolina. He works exclusively with technology through his current school and while serving on the North Carolina Virtual Public Schools’ Board. You can contact him on Twitter @DonnellMcLeanSr