Technology allows educators to share the innovative best practices and ideas they gather with others easily, said panelists during an Oct. 29 discussion at the National School Boards Association’s T+L Conference. The panel session was titled "Innovation, Technology, and Going to Scale."
Jean Hendrickson, executive director of Oklahoma A+ Schools, said that when addressing challenges in a school district, educators should envision a specific child they care about and then think of all of the opportunities they would want that child to have while in school.
"Technology can help us to do it all. But it can’t do it all [by itself]. It is a tool. It is inert without input, without humanity, without thinking about the child that you love and outcomes that we need, and getting beyond half answers," she said.
Paul Kelley, founder and headmaster of Monkseaton High School in the United Kingdom, agreed that investing in technological innovation is something educators need to do more vigorously.
Kelley said educators need to take the $650 million in "Investing in Innovation" (I3) grant money proposed by the Obama administration and spend it wisely to boost education.
"It could really mean that education in this country could do something very special," he said–and grant winners should share their innovations broadly with their colleagues. "It is a tremendous opportunity in the next few years in the states," he added.
Kathy Christie, chief of staff for the Education Commission of the States, said she believes most policy makers want to do things the "right way" to help improve education.
"Sometimes they just don’t know what that way is, like most of us don’t always know what the right way is," she said. "I’m a big fan of … ‘creative compliance.’ As long as you have the right end in mind–which is what’s good for the kids–I think most policy makers are very willing to listen and learn something new and adapt."
Christie said that as the federal government is working to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, federal officials should be encouraged to take the regulations governing programs such as Title I and English as a Second Language and make them one entity to help at-risk students.
But Kelley disagreed with Christie, stating that it’s not the job of the federal government to decide what the right thing to do to improve education.
"The big job over the next 30 years is allowing educators to work with other people to find better solutions," he said. "And I don’t doubt that politicians and policy people generally care about students, but they don’t know what they’re doing."
The Oct. 29 panel discussion continued the theme of innovation running through this year’s T+L Conference. The opening general session on Oct. 28 focused on the keys to unlocking educational innovation (see story http://www.eschoolnews.com/conference-info/nsba-tl/tl-top-story/index.cfm?i=61488).
During the Oct. 29 general session, Gene Broderson, NSBA’s director of national affiliate services and technology programs, recognized Cullman City Schools in Alabama as one of three districts selected as a Technology Leadership Network (TLN) Salute District.
NSBA chose this district of just under 3,000 students for the honor because, recognizing that children throughout the district did not have the same access to technology resources, it embarked on an ambitious one-to-one laptop learning project for all seventh to 12th-grade students in 2005. District officials also implemented a comprehensive professional development program to ensure that new instructional strategies, along with the new laptops, would maximize the learning experience for all students.