In 1998 and 1999, when Intel Corp.’s ACE (Applying Computers in Education) Project was training a total of 3,200 teachers to use computers in their classrooms, executives at the company believed they were having a positive impact on K-12 education. “We were pretty impressed three years ago that we were able to train 2,000 teachers per year,” said Wendy Hawkins, Intel worldwide manager of teaching and technology. “We didn’t imagine that we’d be where we are today.”
Where they are today is just past the first anniversary of the extraordinarily ambitious Teach to the Future program. Launched in January 2000, Intel’s commitment was stunning: $100 million to train 400,000 teachers in 20 countries in 1,000 days. Combined with software and equipment discounts from companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Premio, and Toshiba, Teach to the Future represents approximately a half-billion dollars invested by leading U.S. computer firms in bringing technology to the classroom. “Basically, it turns out that ACE was a pilot project,” Hawkins laughed.
Remarkably, Teach to the Future is ahead of schedule. “We are on track to exceed our target significantly,” said Hawkins. Already, more than 10,000 teachers in the U.S. have completed the program, as well as more than 65,000 teachers worldwide (led by more than 10,000 each in India and in Germany).
The result, hopefully, will be training that completes the three steps needed to transform the classroom experience: equipment, connectivity, and training. The ACE Project was designed to provide training with true applicability to the classroom. “Teachers said they need to learn how to help kids do real research on the web, not just cut-and-paste,” said Hawkins. “They need to learn how to use the internet without losing control of the classroom. Training that was too basic led to a reaction of, ‘So what?’ about having the skills. We needed to figure out how these skills would make a difference for kids.”
Building on ACE
As ACE was developed and modified after feedback from early participants, it became the core of the Teach to the Future program. According to one survey, more than 80 percent of ACE graduates reported that using computers improved their instructional efforts and enhanced students’ learning. “We took our ACE Program curriculum, which took two weeks of training, and broke it into four-hour modules,” said Hawkins. “This enabled teachers to take the program at times other than the summer.”
During training, teachers learn to create curricula that immediately generate interaction with computers and related technology. “This is a training curriculum designed by real, working classroom teachers for real, working classroom teachers, and it’s delivered by real, working classroom teachers,” said Hawkins. “It’s not a bunch of Intel technicians who have all sorts of fancy equipment in a technology lab that can’t be duplicated in the field.”
Each teacher must come to the training with a lesson plan that he or she uses in class. Over the course of the program, that lesson plan is converted into an electronic package that maintains its educational integrity but uses computers and the internet. By the time a teacher has completed the training, he or she has a CD-ROM version of the original lesson plan, immediately ready for use, as well as the skills to develop additional curricula.
Openings available for applicants
Teach to the Future is still accepting applicants in the U.S. and abroad. Currently, it is available to teachers in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Florida, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and New England. “These are areas in which we are able to provide appropriate support services through regional training centers,” said Hawkins.
To apply to the program, visit Intel’s web site (see link above). Any teacher in a public school district or nonprofit, nondiscriminatory private or parochial school in a targeted geographic area is eligible. “It’s easy to get involved,” said Hawkins. “Also, we’re beginning to put together a way of extending the reach of the program to other states where we can’t offer training directly. We’ll have information on that on the web site in the future.”
Applicants to the program have two options. For most teachers, the basic training program is appropriate. Basic training consists of the 10 four-hour modules, led by experienced trainers and educators, and free software donated by Microsoft (Office 2000 Professional and Encarta Encyclopedia 2000) for post-training classroom use.
For some teachers, the Master Teacher option may be worth pursuing. Intel plans to train 2,500 Master Teachers in the U.S. by the end of 2002, and these individuals are expected to provide a support network that continues the program’s influence in classrooms in their schools. Master Teachers take additional courses, such as a three-day leadership seminar (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and receive an HP laptop computer and $5,000 for software purchases upon completing their training. “Master Teachers are the fulcrum of this program, so we are investing heavily in their training and support,” said Hawkins.
Individual schools or districts in eligible regions must meet certain eligibility requirements. Basically, schools must have appropriate computers and internet access (computers can be obtained at reduced prices through Teach to the Future partners) so that trained teachers do not return to classrooms unequipped to use their new skills. Again, the specific requirements can be found on Intel’s web site.
Although off to a rousing start, Intel and its partners are continuing to improve the program. In 2001, Teach to the Future will debut two new curriculum modules, one on working with digital cameras and the other on working with computer-aided microscopes. Intel also plans to place on the web some of the lesson plans that program participants have developed. “All lesson plans are being evaluated by Master Teachers, and we will put those with the most universal applicability on the web on approximately April 1,” said Hawkins. “We have about 2,300 [lesson plans] on the web now from the ACE Project.”
The courses themselves, as well as the participating districts, also undergo constant review. “Intel believes in continuous improvement,” said Hawkins. “We have contracted with the Center for Children and Technology to do a series of evaluations of the program for us … to provide information about which environments are working best.”
By getting feedback on the program while it’s still in progress, Intel can work with districts that are not achieving the goals they set for themselves. “Each school district contributes money, time, and attention to the program,” said Hawkins. “They care that they are getting something in return, and they’ve been very receptive to our advice.”
Contact: Wendy Hawkins
Vice President, Corporate Education
5200 NE Elam Young Parkway
Hillsboro, OR 97124