How Can We Take Innovation to the Next Level in Schools?

How Can We Take Innovation to the Next Level in Schools?

How Can We Take Innovation to the Next Level in Schools?

In light of the seeming unstoppable trend of smartphones, tablets, e-books, and the like in schools and with technology increasingly being used on a daily basis, their adoption in the classroom hasn’t seemed to be slowing. And while there’s no doubt that the technology is far more important in the current classroom environments than a decade ago, educators are still grappling with issues relating to its use in classrooms – the ways in which we can better utilize it, and the challenges that face our efforts.

A panel of expert panelists discussed these issues during an innovation panel entitled, “Interventions and Opportunities for Implementation: The Future of Technology in Schools” hosted at the NewSchools Venture Fund’s New Venture Series event recently. The panel was moderated by Jason Glickman, partner, Benchmark. His panel featured Clayton Wojcicki, a first year teacher at Madison Valley Charter in San Francisco; Dr. Laura Kim, a computer science major in college and teacher at Park Meadows School in Tempe, Arizona; Courtney Scott, a social studies teacher in southwest Michigan; Dr. Caroline Watson, director of research at NewSchools Venture Fund; and Jill Gold, author of “From Field Trip to Classroom: The Case for digital learning in schools.”

The use of iPads in schools was a major theme of discussion. The ubiquity of tablets and smartphones in our daily lives, combined with the fact that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screen time shouldn’t exceed two hours per day, might make it seem that students are spending too much time on their devices. But according to Dr. Laura Kim, this is hardly the case. She noted that screen time can improve students’ memory, concentration, and ability to follow complicated instructions, as well as create creative and emotionally connected experiences. She says that, compared to time spent using the “19th century learning technologies” of chalk and drawing stick men in the classroom, students today have better access to engaging technology, which allows them to be more creative. Dr. Kim stressed the importance of learning in “real time,” not necessarily the old “study in slow motion.”

Dr. Laura Kim was also cited as a mentor who helped train new teachers as part of an innovative new technology program at Park Meadows. The pilot program had students using iPads and designed work experiences that encouraged using technology in a variety of settings, ranging from grade-school levels to universities. Dr. Kim says the program allows for more student ownership of their learning and meets the curriculum objectives within their grade level. Schools using the program have experienced improved grades and improved student engagement, she says.

According to Courtney Scott, her social studies classroom at Lincoln Christian Academy in southwestern Michigan is an early adopter of technology. “Using student-created educational tools is incredibly motivating for students and teachers alike,” she said. “In a world where there are so many distractions online, providing students with the tools to express their creative side and develop a more purposeful learning experience is a huge value.”

For support in implementing technology, NewSchools Venture Fund has created The Future of Learning Fund, a program designed to provide low-income and at-risk schools with the resources they need to design and implement an innovative digital learning program that meets the needs of their students. Students from participating schools can test apps developed in The Future of Learning Fund Student Digital Lab and present the results at the Innovation Challenge event.

The NewSchools Venture Fund is a leader in the education innovation space, which leverages social enterprise, venture capital, and philanthropy to advance innovation in American public education. NSDF seeks to accelerate the adoption of the 21st century skills, knowledge, and technologies that will power the modern economy and enable students to realize their potential. NSDF works with transformative startups and high-growth companies to provide students and teachers with tools and opportunities to successfully engage in critical conversations about their education and future success. NSDF believes that while technology is essential to education, it is only one of the innovative solutions needed to deliver comprehensive 21st century education. To learn more, visit

For more information about the Future of Learning Fund and the innovation challenge, visit http://www.thefutureoflearn….

For more information about NewSchools Venture Fund, visit

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