Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

eMINTS-21st Century Lewis & Clark

Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

eMINTS-21st Century Lewis & Clark

Article excerpt

Director, K-12 Schools, MOREnet DESE Programs

Like Lewis and Clark who in the 19th century searched the land and waters of Missouri for proof of life and history, education has had its share of explorers, all who searched for the way to reach the minds of youths and adults. From Dewey's progressivism to Counts' reconstructionism in the 20th century, different approaches advocated by different theories all have attempted to uncover the secret to educational and instructional success.

Another exploration is underway in Missouri today. It is a venture that is challenging some long-standing methods and traditional mores. It is forcing hard decisions from many of the state's top decision makers, who will affect the brightest lights of the future. And right in the middle of it all are the children of the Show-Me State.

No, this exploration is not a chic technology revolution. It is an educational revolution, a strategic statewide initiative that empowers Missouri's teachers with a new set of educational tools for instruction in the 21st century. Pilot Project

The enhancing Missouri's Integrated Networked Teaching Strategies (eMINTS) program is based in a proof-of concept pilot project in six St. Louis County school districts. The Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE), Missouri Research & Education Network, and Southwestern Bell teamed to create an opportunity that challenged teachers and students in a new learning environment.

The project was designed to provide classroom teachers with continuing extensive training on using technology as a learning tool for students. Each of 12 elementary classrooms (two in the same building in each district) received a high-speed Internet connection and technology on the teacher's and students' desks. The objective of the project was to determine whether the teacher training combined with eliminating technology barriers traditionally experienced by schools would change teaching styles and strategies and improve student performance.

Success of the pilot project was impressive enough for the Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education to launch a statewide initiative-21st Century Vision for Education in Missouri. The success was seen in numerous predictable areas, such as significantly improved standard test scores, declines in discipline referrals, increases in student attendance, and parent participation.

More impressive growth was seen in the depth of learning and analytical skills of students learning in highpowered classrooms. Teachers noted these changes in their students: the development of high-level thinking skills; an increased mastery of learning; more involvement in the learning process; an empowerment to do their personal best; and a deeper development of their social skills.

The success of the pilot project cannot be attributed entirely to the teacher training and high-tech classrooms. The most encouraging development was where the growth occurred. Southwestern Bell funded the pilot project and requested that the schools selected be in the St. Louis area, a center for their service area. MOREnet committed to deliver the technical infrastructure and support in addition to ongoing teacher training and resources for the project. DESE selected school districts in the pilot project primarily based on their technology leadership and then chose schools in historically disadvantaged areas. Pilot project schools had low student achievement, a high number of at-risk students, and a high percentage of free or reduced lunch eligibility. The pilot project schools were located where opportunities historically have been low.

eMINTS

The pilot project was the launching point for eMINTS, which began as an effort in the spring of 1999. Funding ideals, equipment procurement, district selection, training agendas, support models, and more needed to be determined to ensure efficient rollout and operation of the program. …

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