By Sara Martin
The fifth and final Digital Learning Environment Event was held on April 28 in beautiful downtown Pittsburg at the City Center Doubletree Hotel. The keynote speaker for the event was Holly Jobe, the Project Manager for Classrooms for the Future (CFF), Pennsylvania’s high school reform program. Holly Jobe has been involved in all levels of education. Her interests include how education technology can reform education and fully engage student in taking responsibility for learning; and educational leadership. She has served in her current position with the Pennsylvania Department of Education since 2006.
Pennsylvania’s initiative goals are to transform the way high school teacher teach and how student learn. With 20 million dollars budget the plan was to equip classrooms in all curricular areas with enhanced technology, laptop computers, and other state-of-the-art resources. CFF provided funds over three years so that all Pennsylvania high schools could participate. Now in the 3rd year of the initiative, 143,000 laptops have been distributed for 500,000 students.
The important component of professional development is being addressed as well. $6 million in state and federal funds was earmarked for teachers and other staff to receive extensive training. Training includes methods that use technology to increase student achievement and ensure that students are ready for college and other demands of the 21st century. In order to support the teachers as they learn the new technologies and attempt integration into their curriculum, the CCF initiative has initiated on-site instructional coaches in each participating school. These coaches provide support and training to ensure that all school staff acquires the understanding and skills to integrate technology into their classroom instruction, use data to make informed decisions, and promote more individualized instruction.
The specific goals of CFF are;
• Improve teaching and learning in English, math, science, and social studies.
• Change classroom practice.
• Change student-teacher relationships.
• Increase student engagement.
• Students responsible for learning.
• Students developing 21st century skills.
• Increase Academic achievement
More specific information regarding the state’s CFF program can be found at: http://www.edportal.ed.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/classrooms_for_the_future/475
As the 5 city DLE events come to a close, it is clear that the goals of Pennsylvania’s CFF are in line with the regional goals for education that we have seen demonstrated and discussed all around the country. It is encouraging to see so many committed educators embracing the need for systemic change in education. Together we can make change happen as we continue to move from the instructor centric towards the student centric model. The events have been opportunities to look at how a digital leaning environment can be the catalyst for teaching and learning in the 21st century. The hands-on opportunities have demonstrated to attendees how technology-rich learning environments not only enrich students’ learning experiences but also help them achieve their goals. Many thanks to all the partners and individuals who made this year’s DLE Events such a success!