Guest Editorial: Partnering for Success
by William Rodrigues General Manger, IBM K-12 Education I am very excited about the education community today, and I'd like to tell you why. Technology has evolved to its best position ever for delivering on the promise of helping educators teach and students learn. In addition, educators' experiences with technology and knowledge gains have altered thinking on implementation and classroom usage of technology. This new thinking holds tremendous promise for education and our communities at large. What is this wave of technology development that brightens the future for education? It has several components. First, there is the rapid advancement and price reduction of multimedia computers. Next, the distribution of education content has exploded through low-cost CD-ROM titles and the Internet. Use of the Internet is widespread and growing exponentially. Finally, the federal government and communities are investing in technology infrastructure in the schools. There is also a broad-based realization that the greatest benefits for children are realized when technology is integrated within the curriculum under the teacher's leadership. Educators I meet with are telling me that in-classroom usage by teachers and students is now fundamental to school plans. This unfolding consensus among educators has greatly enhanced my vision for how IBM can make a difference to teachers, students, administrators and parents. Examples of Partnerships Let's look at some recent actions of school districts in partnership with IBM that have begun to make a difference. A 3,800-student district in western Michigan dedicated $10 million of a $42 million bond issue to technology. The systemic use of technology was key to their strategy for improving education and service to the community. They have embarked upon a ten-year initiative that will greatly improve the school district's connection to the community. Museums, libraries, universities, and ... yes, homes will be connected to the school district. The initiative includes computers, software, networking, ISDN services, maintenance, training and financing. A 50,000-student district in west Texas is spending over $20 million for technology to improve the infrastructure for its 56 school buildings and offices. Why? For the same reason as the smaller Michigan district: to improve the community through improving the children's ability to function and lead in a continually changing technological world. Four Key Areas I am both excited and grateful that each of these school districts chose IBM as its key partner. Our direction is clear. IBM K-12 Education's direction is based on providing technology, know-how and resources to help educators improve learning and enhance the satisfaction of their local constituents. We are striving to accomplish this through a focus on four key areas. They are: Technology development to help teachers teach and students learn. Our recently announced SchoolVista and SchoolVista Assessment Suite are cornerstones for our future. SchoolVista provides the "real world" classroom interface to functions that uniquely combine instructional management, communications and productivity. The Assessment Suite provides a balanced approach to assessing learning and improving instructional decision making. Leadership in open systems for schools. Our Partnership in Development program is IBM's leadership initiative for making educational content available from industry-leading software publishers available for improved classroom-driven use. This is accomplished by enabling third-party product integration with SchoolVista. Leverage of IBM corporate resources to provide the breadth and depth of skills required for large-scale and custom solutions for schools, as evidenced by our partnerships in Michigan and Texas. Growth of our dedicated K-12 consulting and services. Services such as staff development and technology planning and integration are the key to IBM delivering on its promise of providing education solutions, not just products. As I continue to visit with educators I will consistently ask if IBM's direction is on target. We need your input on how we can partner with you and use our products and services to deliver solutions that will help you achieve success.
This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.