As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days. That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week. The twelfth session (and the last one for today) that I am blogging is:
Utilizing the Innovation Ecosystem to Promote Change in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Perspective
- In Event: Breaking Down Silos, Advancing Innovation: Understanding Innovation Ecosystems in Education Technology
11:45am to 1:15pm, Marriott Marquis, Level Two, Marquis Salon 12
In a school system consisting of 95% charter schools, one might expect collaboration among individual operators to be nonexistent or fragmented at best. However, the edtech ecosystem in New Orleans is currently thriving and serves as one of the key drivers of the city’s continued educational growth and innovation. As the Director of Blended Learning for KIPP New Orleans schools and a consultant for Educate Now!, I am currently focused on three intertwined projects: 1) leading academic innovation in our ten KIPP schools through the integration of technology, 2) directing the edtech collaboration efforts between charters through the New Orleans EdTech Meetup and Personalized Learning Community of Practice, and 3) creating digital partnerships between low-income school students and local university students through “virtual volunteering”. School-level autonomy and direct oversight has granted our edtech community the unique opportunity to pilot independent innovations, share results, adopt each other’s best practices, and avoid each other’s past failures. Key stakeholder groups include public and private school teachers, administrators, students and parents, as well as local university professors and students. While charter schools have spurred the growth of innovation in New Orleans, two independent education nonprofits, Educate Now! and New Schools for New Orleans, are responsible for the birth of our edtech ecosystem through their leadership and financial support.
At KIPP New Orleans, we believe technology has the power to enhance educational outcomes in four key ways: increase feedback to students, increase rigor (cross-curricular projects, creative computing, digital research), enable differentiation and personalization (data, grouping, and competency based pathways), and allow for greater digital communication and collaboration (online communities, email, and other communication mediums). In my current role as Director of Blended Learning, I help teachers leverage technology effectively to achieve these goals. At Educate Now!, I work to recruit all-star teachers to share their methods across schools in order to encourage further innovation. Through partnerships with Tulane University, we are investigating the true power of digital collaboration by connecting college students with low-income students to work together virtually on writing projects.
Every innovation we have implemented in our schools in New Orleans has come from collaboration efforts between educators, universities, parents, and students both in the city and across the nation. Although our local edtech ecosystem has the greatest potential to impact our schools, we often call in outside experts as speakers and/or consultants. Both the New Orleans and national edtech ecosystems are alive and thriving; however, this collaboration requires deliberate leadership, monetary sponsorship, and full accountability in order to truly foster cross-community innovation. As a member of this panel, I will share my experiences using technology as an agent of change in teaching and learning in New Orleans as well as reflect on the role the edtech ecosystem has played in supporting our work.
- Hilah Barbot, KIPP New Orleans
Hilah is former Teach for America that was placed in KIPP New Orleans four years post-Katrina. She was part of the first class out of the Educational Entrepreneurial program at U Penn. In listening to her introduction, it was clear that she was well indoctrinated into the neo-liberal propaganda related to charter schooling, alternative certification, and entrepreneurship in education in general. Having said that…
Hilah indicated that the main theme throughout her paper was attempting to address the question of “Who’s feeding who?” As the director of blended learning at her school, in her first year her role was focused on her feeding the teachers on what was blended learning and how to use blended learning. But since that point, it has shifted more to a a role of the teachers feeding each other, and her role has been more making connections between these teachers.
At this stage of the game, she is in a position where she is working with multiple schools throughout the city on implementing personalized learning using the Gates model. One of the strategies that they have been using is monthly EdTech meet-ups, which are educator only (i.e., businesses are not invited). Another strategy has been to bring instructional leaders from each of the schools together, where they observe a different school each month. These leaders use the Gates framework to provide feedback to the observed school. The third strategy that she discussed was trying to get the higher education community involved – both in terms of partnership and research; which has been the item that has been most difficult to accomplish.
Hilah then transitioned to the role that the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Penn has played in providing support for these kinds of strategies, leaving the educators to focus upon education.
While not a statement that Hilah made, probably one of the most dangerous comments that was made came from the discussant, “why are there not clinic trials in education like we see in health care?” Easy answer, because that “gold standard” of research that neo-liberals have made the be all and end all in educational research is quite a flawed model. I mean do we really want our educational products to come with warnings like:
Before receiving XXXX, tell your [teacher or paraprofessional] if you are allergic to it; or to aspirin, other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), other COX-2 inhibitors; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your [teacher] for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your[teacher or paraprofessional] your [education] history, especially of: asthma (including a history of worsening breathing after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs), liver disease, stomach/intestine/esophagus problems (such as bleeding, ulcers, recurring heartburn), heart disease (such as angina, heart attack), high blood pressure, stroke, blood disorders (such as anemia, bleeding/clotting problems), growths in the nose (nasal polyps)….