I am a catalyst. I build and organize communities of people. I unite educators and technologists to explore the transformative power of technology, specifically through gigabit networks, in support of positive education and workforce development outcomes.
It’s my job, and my passion, to envision what the world of learning will look like when we remove the physical boundaries of time and place at our schools; when the web and wearable technologies profoundly reshape learning; and when educators conduct lessons, share experiences and engage learners in virtual and near-real (and real-time) ways.
If you haven’t been in a high school since you were in high school, things have really changed. New school models are popping up all over the country—like Liberty, Missouri’s newest elementary school, EPIC, based entirely on project-based learning—and shaping the future of education.
But I dare say that the future is here with gigabit technology in Kansas City, and with it comes the promise of connected, immersive, virtual and personalized learning supported by our super fast, powerful gigabit network.
The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund invested in nine projects in the KC region over the last year, putting more than $165,000 into pilots that took place in more than 24 learning spaces, reaching thousands of students, parents and educators. These projects are signs of what’s possible, not just today, but in the future. In a sector as complex, hierarchical, bureaucratic and resistant to change as education, our work is modeling a way forward.
Small wins with big impact and high potential allow us to build a community of practice with educators, city leaders, schools and districts, the tech sector, and industry. The economic development benefit of this work not only stimulates the demand for gigabit innovation and new tech economies, but it taps into jobs and talent development, and empowers education systems.
As teaching methods evolve, so too do the tech platforms that support teachers, students, administrators, school districts and education as a whole. From learning management tools and staff assessment systems like Kansas City’s own Lumen Touch and Netchemia to powerhouse apps like Google Forms, edtech innovators are working with schools and teachers to invent new ways to manage data, student learning and to customize and personalize mastery of cognitive skills.
I am an activist for modern and progressive education systems and curriculum. With projects like The Gigabots, we pushed the boundary of robotics clubs by introducing custom programming and a level of interactivity and collaboration not seen before, while exposing students to “Internet of Things” concepts and fostering an innovative mindset that allows students to discover and explore what’s possible. Northland CAPS piloted a project in their immersive professional study program at six area high schools that had nearly 100 juniors and seniors working to design a gigabit-based suite of communications tools for physicians to use with congestive heart failure patients to reduce costly re-admission rates.
I am an evangelist for equity. The demand and importance of digital inclusion and achieving equity for learners through technology drives our work. The Software Lending Library was featured in a spring 2014 pilot at Reconciliation Services’ new coffee-shop inspired Gigabit Cafe to provide digital survival training to social services clients in a safe and neighborhood-style venue, using gigabit connectivity to power old machines running software from the Kansas City Public Library via remote login.
I am a champion of digital literacy. We funded Tech sHeroes, an initiative of KC Women in Technology and the Shawnee Mission School District, to encourage 7th and 8th grade girls to seek out careers in technology, learn to code, and take on tech-related projects to benefit their school and community.
I want all kids to be a force for their future, to have access to and understand technology and the web. Not just how to use it, but how to build it. To make it theirs, and make it better.
I am an educator. By design, the ring of impact reaches teachers and educators. Their stories influence every aspect of the unfolding tale of innovation that is yet to come. Teachers like William Wells from aSTEAM Village, who ambitiously introduces new STEM programs that inspire whole communities to take part, crossing over district lines and creating a bridge for formal and informal educators to collaborate, to conduct, engage and teach empowered learning to urban students; and Laura Gilchrist, 4th grade social studies teacher in North Kansas City, and Kyle Pace, a Google Apps certified instructional technology specialist for Lee’s Summit School District, who co-organize KC’s EdCamp, MoEdChat—a weekly Twitter chat for Missouri educators—and KC Edu, a monthly meetup of local educators featuring presentations of teacher-led innovations (in the spirit of One Million Cups) and networking. They deserve our collective awe at what they are able to do for our community’s children, and they deserve to unlock the power of gigabit technology to unleash new, more effective, individualized, pedagogical methods of 21st century teaching.
It’s important work because:
- Education is the great equalizer for social, progressive and technological change;
- Teacher-inspired innovation turns classrooms into living labs where kids grow into empowered users with the ability to shape their own future; and
- Gigabit technology is an accelerant to fuel the innovation and create educational impact.
I am Hive Kansas City.