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What to do with millions of dollars for education technology

By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor, @eSN_Meris
February 4th, 2014

Current Verizon Foundation programs that integrate technology into the classroom have produced impressive results, said the Foundation, including 59 percent of participating teachers reporting improved ability to individualize their instruction; 52 percent of participating students showing increased technology proficiency; 40 percent of participating students demonstrating increased ability in problem solving; and 37 percent showing increased academic achievement.

“If you work alongside teachers and show them exactly how to integrate technology into the classroom in a consistent and meaningful manner with [PD], the results can be very profound,” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, vice president-global corporate citizenship and president of the Verizon Foundation.

Verizon already supports a number of STEM educational initiatives, including the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program and the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

“Not only are these programs providing teachers and students with the technology and learning skills they can put to immediate use, we are measuring the initiatives’ results to see if they’re making a difference,” said Kirk. “Based on teacher feedback and some real-world examples, that’s happening.”

For example, one Innovative Learning School in Massachusetts saw striking results, reported the Foundation. A number of its students had consistently failed a state standardized test in biology prior to the VILS program, preventing them from graduating and increasing the likelihood that they would drop out. After one year in the program, all the biology students passed.

A survey of students in the inaugural Verizon Innovative App Challenge found that 86 percent of winners were interested in taking future computer programming classes, and 60 percent of winners were likely to pursue a STEM-related career.

Given the initial impact of its programs on thousands of teachers and students, Verizon is expanding its efforts to spur student and teacher innovation in STEM in under-served schools and communities.

These new efforts include a nationwide challenge with software developers to create new applications to enhance math and science education; a virtual teacher training initiative to reach thousands of educators with new ways to integrate science and math technologies in the classroom; an internship program to help students learn critical 21st century skills while solving business problems in their local communities; and student-mentoring programs with Verizon employee volunteers and business partners.

(Next page: Microsoft’s billion in savings for BYOD and PD)

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