iPads are the savior for all that ails our education system, right? There seems to be as many diverse perspectives and opinions on the topic as there are apps competing for virtual shelf space. That’s a significantly relevant signal to us. We’ve all heard “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” From an innovator’s perspective “where there are a lot of passionately fanatical behaviors, there’s real change happening.”
We can all agree that technology has the capability to revolutionize education and fulfill the vision of student-centered learning. Like most revolutionary innovations, we don’t all agree and see it the same way. Which is a critical ingredient for awesome change. Wide ranging ideas and perspectives about how to best approach such an unknown endeavor need the space and time to collide. Ideas about technology: replacing textbooks, filling teacher shortages, providing home internet access, putting students in charge of the learning experience, helping students with disabilities, improving test scores, and closing the digital divide to name a few. Those collisions form new ideas and points of view that build upon each other and continue to strengthen the eventual result.
At some point, talk needs to shift into action where real innovation happens, as new ideas are exposed to the fresh air of reality. That’s one of the many things we love about the approach that the Englewood Colorado School District is taking to revolutionize student-centered learning.
Through the vision of the Englewood School District team, leadership of Karen Brofft, assistant superintendent, and support from the Morgridge Family Foundation, each and every one of the 2,000 K-8 grade students in the district will be outfitted with an iPad.
The initial goals are: (1) to provide more access to books that are interesting to kids and (2) provide more access to reading material that is at their individual reading level using the myON reader program. But, the real innovation to us is their open minded approach, fully committed to the infinite learning opportunities yet to be discovered. At PK-5 Tutors, we’d simply call it “iPads with no strings attached.”
And it is with that mindset that we’d love to see the Englewood School District continue to grow and deploy iPads to all their PK-12 students as they have planned, but with an emphasis on iPad learning through creation in addition to iPad learning through consumption (i.e., reading). Jamestown Elementary School has two projects, 5th Grade Book Trailers and Creating Interactive eBooks in Second Grade that illustrate the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. And the fabulously innovative Brad Flickinger, founder of Kid Tech Camps, continues to raise the bar of edtech at Bethke Elementary School.
Regardless of the path Englewood takes, they are well on their way leading the student-centered learning revolution. To that we say, “Keep up the fabulous work.” We’ll certainly be watching and learning from them.