Innovate to Educate Entry
Cleveland City Schools
Ben Williams, STEM/ Engineering Instructor
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?We are a STEM program that, through community and global partnerships, have sent two sets of 10 laptops, each complete with global wifi hotspot, to two global areas where we are collaborating with global students internationally on projects. We are currently working with One Heart Africa and Servant's Heart Jamaica on collaborative projects that are empowering students in areas of need to develop skills in aquaponics, sustainable energy, entrepreneurship, global communication and technology fundamentals. Through this initiative, we were able to travel with 10 student ambassadors to Nicaragua in the summer of 2015 where they installed an aquaponic system of their own design at a children's home. We are hoping to serve as STEM Ambassadors again in the summer of 2017 as we travel to Jamaica for a culminating event resulting from an online collaboration that is taking place during the 2016-2017 school year. This current project is introducing the concepts of global communication and aquaponics design to students at the Jamaican Christian School for the deaf. These relationships and skills that will be shared collaboratively will empower a struggling population with life-changing experiences through technological collaboration and global relationships. This initiative has improved teaching and learning in our schools greatly, as we have become focused on the 'who' in every lesson. Our students are seeing every project as an opportunity to learn and redesign solutions for real world problems. Our students are also learning empathy in a field of technology where the human element usually takes a back seat to technical skills and training.
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?Our biggest challenge is always funding! A global initiative is rarely a cheap one. We are a proud public school who has accomplished trips and fundraising through this initiative that are rarely seen even from private schools with much better funding and connections. We have overcome these obstacles by sharing our very passionate goals with those around us in the community, as well as sharing with any interested stakeholders in a wider national and international community. A great challenge also lies in logistics, as we plan around collaboration with schools in different time zones who are learning technology that we have taken for granted in our local area schools.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
Infrastructure. This is not to be confused with cutting edge technology insomuch as admitting a necessity for basic devices to begin the initiative.
|I believe that students are the users and stakeholders that should dictate the technology and methods for appropriate use in a classroom setting.|
I believe instructors and classes must remain flexible to ebb and flow with incorporating new technology and uses for technology. The environment must allow for risks and failures, as teachers and students both strive to innovate new ways to use existing and emerging technology strategies in their classroom.