Innovate to Educate Entry

Amherst Exempted Village School District

Michael Molnar, Executive Director of Educational Services

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

The Amherst Schools Educational Foundation (ASEF) Creative Learning Center at Steele High School is an active learning environment for twenty-first century learning. There are five different instructional spaces in the ASEF Creative Learning Center: collaboration stations, virtual learning spaces, a presentation space, an active learning model classroom, and a "one-button" video creation studio. The ASEF Creative Learning Center opened in August 2016 and more teachers and students have used the learning spaces in the first six weeks of this school than the entire 2015-2016 school year!

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

The first challenge was raising the funds for the Creative Learning Center project. The school district partnered with the Amherst Schools Educational Foundation who donated $200,000 towards the project! A second challenge was designing a space for real twenty-first century learning. District administrators visited area high schools and college campuses for innovative ideas that we tailored to our high school and our students' needs.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

The first component for ed-tech innovation success is an infrastructure that can handle the demands of twenty-first century learning in a technology-infused culture and work environment.
The second component for success is on-going professional development for educators through job embedded exploration and active learning opportunities.
The third component for success is the allowance of learners to take intellectual risks, personalize their learning, and engage in collaborative learning situations.

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