Earlier this week, I was in “America’s Vancouver” (home of Bigfoot!) in Washington state for the League of Innovative Schools’ Spring 2015 Meeting—a Digital Promise initiative. The League is a coalition of 57 school districts in 27 states that serves more than 3.2 million students, and is dedicated to applying technology and education research to solve the challenges K-12 schools currently face.
Vancouver is beautiful and we experienced some rare sunshine. The first evening, we were bused to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, an amazing hands-on science museum in Portland (pictured below).
The treat of the night was seeing the districts “Film Festival,” which was a compilation of films the district leaders and students put together. Definitely the most moving and impactful stories are those told by the students. You can see them here. Check out Maggie’s story—the 11th video in the list. If this video does not inspire you to support STEM and make clear to you the importance of world-class engineers, then nothing will.
Because we worked with Digital Promise, Qualcomm Education, Inc. was invited to be a part of a select group—including school superintendents and district leaders—participating in workshops and sharing our ideas for enhancing learning in the digital age.
One big theme was how to use “The Art of Storytelling” to better communicate some of the terrific advances that are going on in schools around the nation. Digital Promise’s Director of Story, Marco Antonio Torres, led a number of sessions emphasizing the importance of effectively telling the stories about how we are all working on increasing learning opportunities for everyone. Marco suggests organizing stories into: Victories, Lessons Learned, and Needs and Concerns. He also gave us tips on how to be a better photographer and videographer using our smartphones and tablets.
Another highlight of the meeting was the opportunity to visit schools already using technology to enhance learning. After pumping us full of the most amazing donuts (a famous Portland donut shop called Voodoo Donuts), the visit to Vancouver Public School was inspiring and the students were fantastic storytellers. Their level of engagement and excitement was impossible to miss. One of the schools I visited had their 1-to-1 device program going only since January, but the uses cases already in place were simply extraordinary.
Students at Skyview High School were really into robotics. Their excitement and passion as they explained their project was contagious. One student, as a freshman, knew nothing about computers but wanted to join the robotics team. So her classmates worked with her. Now a junior, the student speaks like she is running a start up in Silicon Valley. It was so encouraging and refreshing to see girls interested in robotics.
Most stimulating were the discussion opportunities we had with peers, including school superintendents and district leaders as well as other corporate and thought partners.
When I explained we’re working to solve the “homework gap” with LTE, everyone’s eyebrows raised. This is clearly a problem that needs to be solved and we’re the company to solve it.
As we reminisced over what we learned and discussed over the last three days, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and impatient. Inspired that change is happening. Impatient in that I know it can be better but it will take time. The stories you hear from the kids on their use of technology and how it is helping them learn really does give you goose bumps. To all of us that attended the meeting, the most important thing we can do collectively is focus our energies on solving problems and stay strong in our belief that education is slowly but surely becoming an equal playing field for all students. Stay tuned for my next post!
Check out our other Qualcomm Education OnQ blog posts: