I've been asked to help facilitate an event at the end of March with educational and government representatives on the topic of using the new technologies of the Web specifically to help low-income and minority students--and in particular to open greater opportunities for higher education to them. If all goes as we're planning right now, I'll be broadcasting the event live as a part of the interview series here and for anyone with an interest in this topic.
My job for that day will be to lay out the vision and possibilities for this angle on Web 2.0, as I've told them that I don't have any particular expertise directly here, but want to be a part of helping to bring the dialog forth.
I'm interested in what ideas you, dear network members, have on this topic, and if there is anyone you think I should particularly look to for thought leadership here. I'm also interested in involving some students in the discussion.
Here's a piece of good news! The Minneapolis Public Schools now has its Classroom Moodle available on the citywide wifi Civic Garden. That means that anyone with a wifi device can access a Moodle course on the Minneapolis Public Schools web site; no account is needed.
Now, as others have pointed out, the obstacles aren't so much about money, but about getting everybody on board with the realities that now exist. This shifts what and how we teach. It upsets a lot of the institutional aspects of public education. The paper work and meeting culture that permeates public education in the US will now really be a culture without a home or purpose. The challenge now is to move the minds and attitudes of the system to be able to function in the new reality. It isn't about money; it isn't about hardware or software.
Teaching Matters is working in high needs schools across New York City focused on applying innovations made possible by technology to improve student success.
I have a couple quick thoughts on this topic.
Thinking from the perspective of the barriers or constraints that prevent low income and minority students from accessing higher ed..
1) Lack of preparation based on the quality of their secondary education experience -- leading to high drop out rates.
-- Models that help students access supports while they are in college.
2) Lack of affordable options.
-- Leading to models which radically lower the cost of higher ed. I know a company creating low cost online courses that make it possible to do five or more basic classes for $500 total that transfer to other colleges.
. That is controversial perhaps but their point of view is that these intro classes are generally over priced.
3) Lack of vision and realization that they can make the jump from secondary to higher ed.
Models that help students internalize that they can go to higher ed.
i sponsored a student to take a physics class in high school to help him "see" that he could and should be considering engineering (and these science classes like physics were not available in in his school in the Bronx.) This is an interesting model.
High schools located near or on college campases have been shown to increase the likely hood that students will attend college.
Can web 2.0 while virtual offer the benefits of helping students see links between secondary and higher education.
If you would like I can ask one or two students to participate. They are both in colllege now and attended in secondary school in the Bronx.
Thanks for being so focused on the direct questions. Great information. Yes, I'd like to see about having the students participate. In fact, the more that this discussion here has gotten going, the more I feel that our discussion should be bigger than this one event I am doing. Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a teacher of low SES minority students in Cleveland, I wanted to say thanks for taking this on in spite not having direct expertise. I'll be encouraging my colleagues to participate. Do you need presenters? Let me know how I can help. I don't want to be pushy, so let me know if you'd like credentials, which I will forward.
This is exactly what we are focused on at FreshBrain.
We provide a FREE platform for teens to explore and create with technology. The idea is to teach them in the way they learn - in a social networking based environment through trial and error, by allowing them to do something and see the result immediately. To have them do the kinds of things that are interesting to them and as a result, they learn! We are very focused on eliminating the digital divide. Everything that we do is free. We point them to free tools. To free websites. We surround them with others who are interested in the same kinds of things.
Take a look and let me know how I might help - freshbrain.org (freshbrain.org/about)
If my understanding of the community needs is right, there needs to be a human dimension - infrastructure that works effectively in-school, but also that works effectively outside school, with accessible people to guide, assist and - yes, mentor, like, for example, the work that Daniel Bassill (Tutor/Mentor Connection) does in Chicago. (Homes may not be the best place to locate off-school resources.)
One of the challenges that people like Ruby Payne face us with is making the transition into different cultures and different values, for when we fail to see a different culture and just assume that material provisions will achieve there what they'll achieve in our own cultural setting, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment and backlash.
So, yes, resource the communities with technology and programs, but understand the culture and resource appropriately, with adequate people to mediate learning(s).
Online translation tells me that you are wishing to participate but you can only understand a part of what is going on. I'm glad you tried.
Won't it be amazing when a discussion forum like this can automatically show translations next to contributions? It won't be perfect, of course, but I can imagine it having very positive implications both for the discussions and for the ability to increase our familiarity with other languages.
I have a few comments to add from my position as a contractor (retired school counselor) with Georgia Virtual School program.
The use of online learning by states such as mine (GA) is growing and growing! One of the problems that I see is that the state only funds one unit per semester, and if a student (public, private, or home school) needs an additional course, either the student or school must pay. Much of Georgia is still rural and relatively poor....many students outside the metro Atlanta area do not have high speed access at home which is a huge issue in itself. We have many requests for scholarships and currently have not found resources available.
The other issue I am seeing is the fear that schools have of opening the school computers to websites. It seems that IT personnel need training in how to safely allow teachers and students to use the wealth of Web 2.0 material currently available.