21st Century Learning

Schools Push Digital Convergence with Private Partner

Two school organizations have signed on with an education technology company to help them with their digital convergence. Michigan's Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Alaska's SERRC, an educational resource center that serves every district in that state, have signed agreements with Modern Teacher, which provides products and professional development services to guide schools through adoption of 21st century tools and instructional practices.

Modern Teacher offers a "digital convergence framework" and methodology for helping schools to advance in their use of new technology and teaching practices to encourage personalized and blended learning.

Washtenaw's Interim Assistant Superintendent for Achievement, Naomi Norman, said her district had a "moral obligation" to make sure its students were ready to "compete globally." Accomplishing that, she added, "will require rethinking teaching and learning. This partnership is one of our strategies to do so."

The district's Superintendent, Scott Menzel, noted that he expects the partnership to help his schools reach the next level of maturity in their use of technology. "We believe the school districts in Washtenaw County are on the cutting-edge of instruction and this is a natural next step in our work together."

The Alaska organization teamed up with the company, as well as the Teaching Channel and Sealaska Heritage Institute to pursue funding from the United States Department of Education. The consortium recently received that grant, worth $3.2 million, to expand the work of Culturally Proficient Schools, an initiative to identify and embed culturally relevant teaching into the classroom.

Gerry Briscoe, director of that initiative as well as director of professional learning at SERRC, called high-quality public education "a moral imperative." "The promise of...bringing the necessary and vital resources to all of our students is exciting," he said. Briscoe will focus on finding innovative ways to "promote culturally responsive strategies within today's technology tools. Digital convergence is the anchor for this."

SERRC Executive Director Sheryl Weinberg concurred. "We believe in equity when it comes to educational opportunities for our students. We are continuously looking for innovative ways to accomplish this. Leveraging today's advanced technology tools to deliver high-quality, relevant curriculum is a frontier we are deeply interested in pursuing."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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