Good morning all,
I had the good fortune to tour Infosys' tech hub in Hartford yesterday with a group of my students. They experienced virtual reality tennis, augmented reality (exploding a model into its composite parts on the screen that the student with the headset and the rest of the class could see on a big monitor) 3-D printing, and collaboration to create creative work. I was struck by the idea in that company of creation. They put creative, intelligent people together in a space, give them the tools they need, and watch them develop things.
Why aren't we doing this with all students? I know that we at Classical Magnet School do this, to some extent. Our Coached Projects, when they run well, allow this sort of collaboration. But we aren't giving the students the technological tools to be greater - to make these ideas into apps or websites, into easily consumable bits and bytes - so the audience for students is largely themselves, and maybe some parents and community members. If, as a society, we really pushed those 21st century skills, and allowed students the time and creative space to create, as they do at Infosys, think of what they could accomplish!
So, on to big dreams: a) Transform at least one room at Classical using the design principles of Infosys. Big, open space, with room to dream and collaborate. Lots of whiteboard space, interactive touchscreens which are usable by everyone, fast computers and knowledgeable coaches who can answer questions when students have tech questions. Infuse this with the ability to create partnerships and drive connections to the larger community - city, state, world, business - and watch our students thrive.
b) Recycle Infosys' old technology. When they upgrade, show students how to refurbish the computers and give them to students who need them. Based on what I saw in the innovation hub, even their old computers would be light years ahead of ours.
c) Ongoing field trips and tech exploration with Infosys, with Capstone projects being guided by Infosys staff. One easy connection - the Hartford website is being redesigned by Infosys. Could the students help in that endeavor? Could they help us on our website as well, using the design principles they learn at Infosys?
d) Summer internships for educators - become certified in teaching python or java, and learn real world applications of it by being a part of a design team. I volunteer as tribute.
e) Math education - each course builds in a few building blocks of CS, so students have some exposure even if they don't take a CS elective.
f) Legit computer science course - either the one I signed up for with Amazon, or one that helps students prepare for Infosys internships by learning python and starting to play with apps.
g) More collaboration between math and science, and math and technology, and science and technology. We need collaborative projects like this because it would allow students to see connections, but also to learn how to work in groups as they would in jobs such as the ones we saw at Infosys. The groupwork and collaboration was at least as important as the individual brilliance of the folks who work there, perhaps more so. The collective genius of a group is what seems to drive innovation there, and what gets the most actual work done.