Creating Opportunities for Effective and Equitable Use of Technology: A Partnership Model
DR. COLLEEN B. WILCOX, Superintendent Santa Clara County Office of Education San Jose, Calif. In five weeks last summer, more than 1,000 teachers and principals were trained to apply the essential elements of integrating network technology into classroom instruction. This enormous effort was spurred on by California’s NetDay’96, on March 9, but the groundwork was laid in 1993 and 1994. At that time, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCC'E) and local school districts were faced with the following factors: Inadequate technological infrastructure; Inadequate partnerships with the private sector, especially in high technology; Inadequate and inequitable access to technology in schools; and Extremely limited resources from the state of California. Coming on board as superintendent of the Santa Clara County Office of Education, an intermediate unit serving 33 school districts, it was apparent that while we sat in the heart of the fabled Silicon Valley, access to technology was severely limited. SCC'E needed to play a leadership role in ensuring access for all students. My goal was to improve access to technology for all schools in Santa Clara County by developing partnerships with the high-technology industry, and, as a result, enable schools within the county to use technological tools to enhance student performance over the long term. San Jose Education Network (SJEN) An early opportunity to jump-start integration of high technology into the schools of San Jose was a collaboration with the City of San Jose, under Mayor Susan Hammer, in the development of San Jose Education Network (SJEN). The city seeded the process with $1 million in funding for the creation of SJEN, a unique community collaborative solely dedicated to using networks as a tool to make fundamental changes in how teachers teach and how students learn. Planning grants helped in the acquisition of technology, the development of curriculum and the provision of staff development. During the summer of 1994, more than 500 teachers, students and administrators participated in hands-on training in using the network in the classroom. At about the same time, the SCC'E decided to provide free Internet access to all schools and districts within Santa Clara County. This was made possible, in part, due to the emerging support of high-technology corporate partners. Thus, an integral component of the system needed to provide equality of access was put in place. NetDay'96 In response to a need to provide access to new techniques and technologies for all students in Santa Clara County, the effort to integrate network technology into classroom instruction received a tremendous impetus from California’s NetDay’96. On March 9, thousands of volunteers from California’s high-tech industries -- stung by California’s ranking at 50th in the nation of computers-per-student -- joined parents, students, teachers and administrators in "wiring" California’s public and private schools. Santa Clara County now has more schools and classrooms wired for Internet access than any area in the state. Their excitement heightened by having access to technology, including the Internet, educators began asking "How should these tools be used? When? and By Whom?" Summer Institute It became abundantly clear that further work was needed in preparing educators for effective use of technology in the classroom. The result was the SCC'E/SJEN 1996 Summer Institute, one of the largest inservice endeavors ever undertaken in the area. Supported by the SCC'E, SJEN, and various business and industry donations, the institute was offered free to attendees; its focus was to develop a core group of teachers, administrators and students. Participating school districts from a five-county area made a commitment that every participant would return to school in September and have a mid- to high-end computer and a connection to the Internet available in his or her classroom. This was not to be a hypothetical experience. The teacher would return to school fully equipped to apply what had been learned. Institute sessions were held from July 8 - August 7, 1996, at 19 sites provided by the participating entities. University credit was available from San Jose State University, as were special discounts on hardware and software, plus discounts on future course offerings by the local Institute of Computer Technology (ICT). Telementors A precursor of this effort was the 1993 California Telemation Project -- a staff development program enabling teachers to integrate curriculum-based telecommunications projects into the classroom. The focus was on teachers; the goal was to bring online information, immediate and global in nature, into students’ learning strategies. This project has been supported and implemented by the SCC'E since its inception. Teachers who participated worked with a curriculum consultant to create and implement a classroom project. These projects are now posted on the Telis Web site at www.telis.org. These first State Telementors trained Local Telementors -- a "train the trainers" model. Local Telementors became the lead teachers for the SCC'E/SJEN 1996 Summer Institute. Corporate Partners: 3Com Adobe Applied Materials Aspect Communications Intel MCI/Telis Foundation Novell Pacific Bell Sun Microsystems Vendor Partners: Apple Computers Claris Corp. Chisholm Computer Plus Connectix Delta Point Corp. Interactive Solutions Inc. Iomega Metricom Microsoft Corp. Pierian Spring Software TCI Cablevision of Calif. 10th Planet Community Partners: Broad Alliance for Multimedia Tech. and Apps (BAMTA) California Technology Assistance Project (CTAP) Institute of Computer Technology (ICT) Resource
Connections San Jose Education Network San Jose State University Smart Valley Institute Components The Summer Institute comprised seven components: Basic Courses A two-day "Basic Course" offered teachers with limited technology skills some computer background and personal experience to undergird their desire to learn more about classroom implementation. The Basic Course consisted of hands-on instruction in how to use a computer, either Macintosh or PC, and a basic introduction to word processing. Approximately 250 teachers self-selected into this component, which was supported by the Institute for Computer Technology. Core Curriculum The centerpiece of the Institute was the series of five-day hands-on "Core Curriculum" courses, some 60 in all, on how to integrate use of the Internet into curriculum. Courses were taught by local Telementor teachers with student assistants actively involved. (See information on the California Telemation Project.) Student Assistant Preparation More than 50 middle- and high-school students participated in a four-day preparation and were provided with telecommunication skills and strategies to assist teacher leaders and participants. Curriculum Project Facilitation Following a five-day core curriculum course, each participant chose a project and participated in a three-day session led by facilitators from industry and education. Working in groups of 12 to 15, these curriculum-based groups developed projects for use in their own classrooms in the 1996-97 school year. Outlines of these projects were posted on the SCC'E/SJEN 1996 Summer Institute Web Page (http://scc'e.k12.ca.us) by each group’s Web master; completed projects will be available after March 15, 1997. Administrator Workshops The success of the curriculum projects in the classroom depends heavily on the support of the principal. Thus, while teachers were attending the institute, more than 200 principals attended a one-day intensive session to provide them with skills and strategies they’ll need to support their teachers.
This workshop was supported by the Broad Alliance for Multimedia Technology and Applications (BAMTA). Electives Elective classes were also offered at no cost to teachers, principals and facilitators through software/hardware vendors. For example, how-to sessions on Adobe and Claris programs, multimedia software such as Digital Chisel and MovieWorks, networking and others were offered. In addition, Apple Computer offered free classes at its facilities. Follow-up Both on-line and off-line follow-up for the participants will be provided by the lead teachers in the Core Curriculum workshops and by ongoing contacts with the Curriculum Project Group Web masters. These efforts will be supported by the SCC'E, regional and local funding. The Future There are more than 13,000 teachers in Santa Clara County. The need for training in appropriate use of high technology across subject and grades in the classroom will be strong for many years. In 1997, the Santa Clara County Office of Education assumes the responsibility for continuing this exemplary training effort, in collaboration with Smart Valley. Planning for the 1997 Summer Institute has already begun. This technology collaboration has become a part of the permanent school program in every school and classroom as each site is wired and avails itself of the free Internet access. NetDayII’96, planned for October 12, 1996, provided additional energy. Providing Internet access to all school districts within Santa Clara County has the potential of reaching more than 250,000 students each and every year. It allows every child, in every classroom where there is a computer, the proverbial "window to the world." The impact will extend far beyond the K-12 environment, as students strive for future success in the technological world of work. Particularly in this region of high-technology research and implementation, even entry-level jobs require at least initial familiarity with computers and their capabilities. Perhaps an even more significant impact is the access to and encouragement of life-long learning that becomes more accessible and alluring through tools like the Internet. The process the Santa Clara County Office of Education used to establish connections with industry and working cooperatively with school districts, especially in areas such as training and group purchasing, can be replicated by any organization. And, with today’s telecommunications capability, proximity is not the key to working together, desire and common interest are. Participating Sites Cabrillo Community College Campbell Union High School District Lynnbrook High School Prospect High School Chualar School District Chualar Elementary School Cupertino Elementary School District Dilworth Elementary School East Side Union High School District Independence High School Mt. Pleasant High School Oak Grove High School Santa Teresa High School Yerba Buena High School Milpitas Unified School District Milpitas High School Monterey County Office of Education Mountain View School District Graham Middle School Santa Clara County Office of Education Santa Clara Unified School District Wilcox High School Santa Cruz Count Office of Education Other sites: Apple Computers BAMTA Visit the Smart Valley Project’s Web site for details on Silicon Valley’s region-wide network: http://www.svi.org Colleen Wilcox is the Superintendent, Santa Clara County Office of Education, San Jose, Calif. E-mail: colleen_wilcox@scc'e.k12.us Other SCC'E e-mail: judy_powers@scc'e.k12.ca.us gene_agee@scc'e.k12.ca.us Products mentioned: Digital Chisel; Pierian Spring Software, Portland, Ore., (800) 472-8578, www.pierian.com MovieWorks; Interactive Solutions, Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., (510) 734-0730
This article originally appeared in the 10/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.