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HP EdTech Innovators Award – 2010 Recipient Stories


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HP EdTech Innovators Award supports educators using technology in creative ways.

Glacial Ridge Monitoring Project
The Center for Early Education
At one time, it may have seemed a little odd to let students at J.A. Hughes Elementary carry tablet computers into the mud. Today, it happens all the time. The Glacial Ridge Monitoring Project brings mobile computing into the classroom — and takes it out in the field — where students take scientific measurements to study changes in established prairie and wetland sites over time, publishing the results in multimedia-rich reports. The project’s roots go back to August of 2001, when the Nature Conservancy purchased 24,270 acres of land ten miles south of J.A. Hughes Elementary School in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, setting the stage for the largest prairie and wetland restoration project in U.S. history. The Glacial Ridge Monitoring Project employs mobile technology to allow 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students to leave the school grounds, get out into nature, and study how environmental policy changes can restore and protect an ecosystem.

The project has now become an integral part of the Hughes curriculum, taking a cross-curricular approach that provides students of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to understand slow changes over time. As they monitor the restoration of prairie and wetland sites for changes in plant, animal and insect species and measure wetland growth on designated sites four times each year, students see firsthand the subtle shifts that take place in established, complex ecosystems. The HP EdTech Innovator Award will allow the Glacial Ridge Monitoring Project to expand to include seventh and eighth grade science, math, and multimedia students who were involved with Glacial Ridge as 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Students will extend their use of multimedia technology for individual and collaborative writing; communication skill building; and creating, publishing and networking presentations for audiences inside and outside the classrooms.

Links related to the project

  • Hughes Elementary School was contacted by the George Lucas Foundations to film the students’ experiences at Glacial Ridge. The website, www.edutopia.org/wetland-ecology-technology-video, features fourth through sixth grade students from J.A. Hughes Elementary School in Learning Landscape: Kids Monitor Terrain with Technology.
  • www.Nature.org/Minnesota features Hughes students as the next generation of conservationists.

Leapfrogging Mathematics in the Early Start Program
California State University, Monterey Bay
At California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), high school teachers and students will attend four weeks of boot camp during the summer — mathematics boot camp, that is. Leapfrogging Mathematics is an intensive program that partners high school math teachers with CSUMB faculty to use tablet PCs with new pedagogical and classroom management strategies to address the needs of remedial math students. The project’s goals are to reduce the percentage of incoming freshmen who require remedial math from 60% to under 40%; to work with high school teachers to invigorate their courses and engage students in mathematics; to provide an opportunity for high school math teachers to collaborate with college professors in curriculum development and pedagogy; and to document its approaches such that it may be replicated across the 23-campus CSU system and then nationally, so that higher education institutions nationwide can better meet the needs of struggling and under-achieving learners.

Leapfrogging Mathematics is a new program, but it builds upon CSUMB’s ongoing experience and successes in courses using tablet PC technology. Since 2003, working in partnership with HP, CSUMB has spearheaded the use of this technology in innovative ways across the curriculum. One consistently effective and expanding program has been remedial math, which serves 500 economically and educationally disadvantaged students each year. Since the fall of 2007, the students’ passing rate in the CSUMB two-semester math remediation courses has been over 90%, as compared to the national pass rate of just under 50%. Thanks to the HP EdTech Innovator Award, Leapfrogging Mathematics will include a revised curriculum integrating tablet PCs, new approaches to classroom management, and collaborative learning activities facilitated by the tablet technology.

Links related to the project

Educational Robotics and Learning by Design
Omar Dengo Foundation
Educational Robotics and Learning by Design establishes rich learning environments where at-risk children and youth in Costa Rica can study robotics and other digital technologies. Students are given a safe and welcoming place to learn and to participate in leisure activities, and in some cases even to receive a hot meal. Through hands-on activities that allow students to design, program, and build working robotic machines, the program feeds the human need to be creative and engages students in active learning. The program promotes communication, collaboration, creativity, and problem solving, all fundamental tools for both academic and personal success.

With the HP EdTech Innovator Award, the Omar Dengo Foundation will extend the program to some of the country’s most vulnerable and underprivileged communities in an effort to provide an alternate and safe learning environment for at-risk children and youth and promote their active participation within their community. Three additional educational robotics laboratories will be established in underserved communities, attempting to break the cycle of poverty through an innovative scientific-technological learning model meant to motivate participants’ desire to learn and better prepare them for their personal and professional futures.

Tech Savvy Future Scientists & Engineers
Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic School
Five years ago, Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic School offered its first science lab lessons: two parents assisted a homeroom teacher in leading a couple of labs. Based on the enthusiastic response of the students, the program grew, and in 2007 a classroom was set aside as a science lab where parent volunteers provided about thirty labs for six classrooms. A year ago, that science lab was staffed by a full-time science teacher who offered 250 different labs to 200 students in grades three to six. Student test scores in science have risen 3% over the past year.

The HP EdTech Innovator Award will allow the school to add tablet PCs and LanSchool software to the science classroom’s SMARTboard and other equipment. Students will use the new technology to communicate with their peers around the world, collaborate on extended projects with thematic tie-ins across the curriculum, create multimedia lab write-ups, perform online research and fieldwork, participate in games-based science learning, and become familiar with some of the tools and technologies used by engineers and scientists. The grant will help create opportunities for social interaction around science activities, ensuring the early exposure to science that may lead to future careers in science and engineering.

e-Education in Physics: A powerful learning environment for 21st century teaching and learning
University of the Free State
The extended Bachelor’s of Science (B.Sc.) curriculum at the University of the Free State in South Africa serves a large proportion of students who come to campus underprepared to pursue a course of study in the sciences. Faced with challenges stemming from attendance at previously disadvantaged schools, including language difficulties, outdated learning strategies, teacher-centered approaches, gender issues, and limited exposure to technology, over 90% of enrolling students have likely been exposed to inadequate science teaching at the school level. The extended B.Sc. program was established to accommodate students who do not meet the entrance requirements for the B.Sc. degree, yet who have expressed interest in the sciences. The course serves as a bridge for successful students to progress towards obtaining a B.Sc. degree.

e-Education in Physics focuses on effective learning principles to support and enhance physics instruction. Tablet PCs are used in collaboration with data logging software, a personal response system, the Internet, and other applications to create an environment very different from that experienced by students in the past — resulting in a new approach to addressing students’ learning issues. Over five hundred students enrolled in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Those who have completed evaluations of the program rated it very highly in terms of content, learning resources, teaching and learning, and assessment, with an especially high rating conferred for technologies used in the classroom. The HP EdTech Innovator Award will allow the program to expand its offerings by augmenting the equipment used and introducing an innovative reading program to support second language students in acquiring language skills to handle course content by replacing the text of a general reading program with relevant physics content.

Technology-enhanced Active Learning in the Chemistry Curriculum
Virginia Wesleyan College
At Virginia Wesleyan College, a transformation has been taking place in the chemistry curriculum. Over the last eight years, courses have changed to more closely mirror the way scientists work, giving students the opportunity to focus on inquiry-based experiments and become more actively involved in the learning process. In the next step of the process, and with the equipment provided by the HP EdTech Innovator Award, classrooms will transition from active learning spaces to interactive environments equipped with technology to support collaboration, interaction between student groups, greater transparency of student work for instructors, and more immediate feedback for students. In the laboratory, students will use collaborative mobile technology for the acquisition, processing, sharing, and comparative analysis of data.

Using tablet PCs to compare and analyze data in real time with immediate instructor feedback, students will sharpen their evaluation and analytical skills. Instructors will be able to pose more interesting research questions with a greater emphasis on experimental design and data analysis than is possible in traditional verification experiments. In the new, interactive learning environments that will be made possible with this award, students will be able to collaborate more closely during active learning exercises in the classroom and to record, share, and analyze data more readily in the labs. Student groups will be able to compare their results at the end of a session, increasing their confidence and deepening understanding. The technology will also allow students to access visualizations of chemical structures and manipulate them onscreen, giving them a more thorough grasp of the complex structural features of compounds, especially large biomolecules — often difficult for students to visualize unaided.

Deepam-Educating, empowering and lighting lives
Chennai Deepam Society
In Chennai, India, nearly 240 economically disadvantaged children in grades 5-8 are losing their fear of technology and learning to regard computers as engaging tools for creativity and empowerment. The all-volunteer staff of the Chennai Deepam Society visit the children, taking along portable computers that they use to introduce four sets of practical skills, including computers and Internet usage; English and communication skills; current and social affairs awareness; and interpersonal development. Using a mentorship model, the volunteers work with the students over a series of weekly sessions, developing those skill sets and opening new doors to help the children understand, identify, and access opportunities for themselves in the future.

Deepam strives to light the spark in the students’ minds and sustain their curiosity for life. As the students progress through the sessions, there is a visible change in their attitude towards technology and computers, moving from fear and anxiety to excitement and confidence. Students typically learn to type on a computer, understand its basic parts, and get comfortable with Paint, Office tools, Internet applications, web search, email and chat. With the aid of computers, they also learn English and read about current happenings around the world.

The HP EdTech Innovator Award will enable Deepam to identify more low-income-group communities in Chennai to expand this highly scalable program. The initial deployment, a summer pilot program, was replicated at six other centers across the city within a few months. Each Deepam center is a ‘bridge’ between the lesser-privileged children and their community, and the Deepam resources.

Links related to the project

MTi Malton Technology Initiative Proposal
Ascension of Our Lord Seconary School
In a district challenged by poverty and crime and characterized by some of the lowest standardized test scores in math, teachers in middle and secondary schools collaborate to ease the transition from grade 8 to grade 9 and give students hands-on experiences with innovative technologies. Using technology previously provided by the HP Innovations in Education Grant, the Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School procured HP Mini-note computers for classroom use. Students share the available Mini-notes, while teachers use tablet PCs and interactive whiteboards to plan curriculum, deliver lessons, and create collaborative experiences for math and science students. After a single year, the preliminary results are impressive: student scores in math and science have increased by 6% and 8% respectively, and the number of disciplinary student referrals to the office from math and science classes has decreased.

The HP EdTech Innovator Award will enable the project to expand, acquiring enough Mini-note computers for each student to use his or own in class without needing to share. Additionally, new tablet PCs will be used in conjunction with the Mini-notes, allowing the students to take advantage of DyKnow software, interactive whiteboards, and more. Most of Ascension of Our Lord Secondary School’s 800 students do not have access to such tools at home, so the project also provides them with tools to grow and compete in a digital world.

Links related to the project

Building of E-classroom and E-Portfolios for Higher Secondary Business Students for Social Entrepreneurship
Galaxy Education System
In Gujarat, India, 11th- and 12th-grade students of business and management are reaching out to underprivileged youth who work as child laborers, teaching them basic literacy. Meanwhile, the business students are raising money through social entrepreneurship ventures, developing their own electronic portfolios that showcase their creativity, collaborating closely with one another and with their teachers, and developing their information and communication technologies (ICT) skills. These students are in touch with their teachers around the clock through their e-classrooms, presenting all work via e-portfolios. Over the past three years, the program has resulted in demonstrated improvement in ICT skill development for the business students, as well as a higher literacy rate among the child laborers. It has also helped teachers to integrate technology into the classrooms.

Money raised by the business students — Rs. 200,000, or almost $1,800 in US dollars, to date — is donated to the schools attended by the child laborers, where the business students also volunteer as teachers. They have furnished makeshift schools with blackboards, small libraries, and other supplies, and sponsored trainings for teachers. The HP EdTech Innovator Award will enable the business students to introduce technology skills to the children once a basic level of literacy is achieved, while further developing their own ICT expertise.

Links related to the project:

Fractal Multimídia - The Factory of Learning Objects
Colégio Estadual Embaixador José Bonifácio
At a secondary school in Brazil, students are creating, marketing, and distributing game-based learning objects to their peers — as well as to the teachers in the school. Students in the Fractal Multimídia - The Factory of Learning Objects project run a simulated multimedia company, but the content they create is quite real. Students, teachers, counselors, principals, and other stakeholders take part in a social network that encourages the community to download, test, critique, special-order, and even remix the materials developed by the students in the project. The structure of the collective mirrors that of an actual company: for each project, students are divided into teams that include game designers, graphic artists, sound artists, programmers and advertisers. In 2009, the students produced more than 30 learning objects in a variety of disciplines.

The project’s main goals, besides supporting the social network of the school community, are to sustain a simulated multimedia company run by students; to help those students understand the importance of collaborative work; to grow a database of custom learning objects usable by the school community; and to provide an opportunity for students to develop programming skills. Initially developed on two computers with 512 Mb of RAM that share eight terminals, the project will use the HP EdTech Innovator Award to expand their computer lab, increase production of learning objects, and allow for further professional development of the students, possibly including the founding of a real business to market the students’ work to a wider audience.

Links related to the project

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