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The NASDAQ Stock Market Education Award
Paul A. Soukup, S.J.
The NASDAQ Stock Market Education Award recognizes uses of technology in education that are integrated, effective, and new.
With its great interest in and rapid develop-ment of technologies, America in the twentieth cen-tury saw repeated attempts to change the face of edu-cation through new tools. And yet things did not change: a teacher from the 1890s, or even the 1790s, could probably have functioned quite well in a class-room of the 1990s. Writing in Bookends: The Chang-ing Media Environment of the American Classroom (Hampton Press, in press), Margaret Cassidy traces the history of technology in teaching in the United States. It is a history of passionate advocacy and val-iant efforts, a history written in photographs and film-strips and films, a history echoed in radio and televi-sion and videotapes, a history encoded in computers and teaching machines and multimedia. To a certain extent and in spite of impressive demonstrations, each new technology failed to live up to its promise in the classroom.
And that was nothing new. Consider this case. Cassidy recounts the dismay of an Oswego County, New York, school superintendent reviewing the use of a new technology:
“Another very common defect, I have discov-ered among teachers, is a lack of ingenuity or inclination, to exercise their schools [with the technology]. It is true, there are but few of our houses furnished with this useful and necessary appendage; but among those that have them, I find but few teachers who know how to use them...It is very hard also, to con-vince parents that the [technology] is of any use whatever in a school house; and they are many times horror-stricken, when asked to tax themselves...to furnish an article, which I deem indispensable to a school room” (quoted in Cassidy, ms. p. 43).
The report, which could describe the introduction of almost any new technology, comes from the 1840s; the technology in question is the chalkboard. One les-son, learned over and over again, emerges: a new edu-cational technology, no matter how promising, will not succeed unless people integrate it into the full edu-cational system: teachers, students, parents, adminis-trators, infrastructure, financing all have a role to play. Without this integration, no new teaching or learning technology will be effective.
A second lesson also emerges from the his-tory. Because people learn from each other, they need to share information about educational innovation and its effectiveness. Not every new technology will suc-ceed, but the wider the discussion of ideas, the more likely others will adopt effective technologies or find new uses for older technologies. The wider the discus-sion of ideas, the more likely communities will sup-port their incorporation into education.
The NASDAQ Stock Market Education Award aims both to stimulate these conversations and to encourage the integration of technology in teach-ing by identifying people or organizations (1) that address serious educational problems through tech-nology, (2) that can clearly explain the technology and its uses, (3) that demonstrate evidence of the impact of their technology, and (4) that can act as models for others to follow. Thus, the judging panel evaluated the 88 applicants for educational innovation on six criteria: problem identification, description of the tech-nology application, explanation of the leading edge or breakthrough aspects of the technology, evidence of their contribution, the presentation of measurable results, a description of potential negative conse-quences, and a discussion of the potential for replica-tion of the technology or project in other places or contexts.
The Applicants: A Range of Ideas
The applicants for 2002 offer a remarkable snapshot of educational innovation around the world, reflecting work from 17 countries on six continents. The majority of the projects addressed teaching by means of the World Wide Web, applying it to academic subjects as diverse as African-American studies, architecture, computer science, cultural resources, desalination, engineering, environmental science, geophysics, languages, mathematics, and medical simulations. Teaching on the Web also addressed extra-academic subjects: learning socio-emotional skills, practicing tolerance, and combating hate speech. Other applicants applied different means for distance education, such as animation, teleconferencing, or television. Projects supported every age group, including non-traditional students (community members, the rural poor, or disenfranchised women, for example). A significant number of projects included teaching teachers how to integrate technology in the classroom.
Before one can teach or learn with technology, one must have access to technology. And so, applicants did not limit educational technology to teaching or learning. Projects also included providing access to technology for people with disabilities; providing access through giving equipment to schools, particularly in less developed countries; providing access to computers in regional or local centers; and providing access through the innovative creation of mobile Internet-equipped classrooms in trucks and buses.
Other applications fostered a wider view of education. Some provided services to children (providing peer support for children with illnesses, encouraging children’s creativity, or assisting children with website creation and hosting). Others promoted global awareness through intercultural exchanges, environmental activism, or global citizenship. Still others worked to support literacy or to protect privacy or to coordinate voluntarism. Finally some developed the educational technological infrastructure by creating specialized web portals, web indices, or web filters.
The five Laureates (in alphabetical order) for the NASDAQ Stock Market Education Award are Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India; CAST in Peabody, Massachusetts; the Global SchoolNet Foundation of Encinitas, California; Katha of New Delhi, India; and the University of Colorado’s Center for Spoken Language Research.
Bunker Roy, The Barefoot College, Rajasthan, India
Bunker Roy of Barefoot College (www. bare footcollege.org) combines appropriate technologies with an educational and pedagogical philosophy to create a “bottom-up” education for India’s rural poor. Confronted with the lack of an educational tradition, Barefoot College developed its educational philosophy to resonate with the lives of the people it serves. And so, in an innovative switch, its use of technologies supports an infrastructure for learning, rather than having the technologies themselves function as tools for learning.
To sustain its tradition of education, Barefoot College seeks to de-mystify education for the rural poor by giving priority to their thoughts and values as they learn; it also aims to build their confidence and competence by training them to provide a service to their communities. Its pedagogical philosophy plays out by having the poor themselves create and maintain a technological infrastructure. In so doing, they address the very real problems of drinking water, education of women, health, sanitation, rural unemployment, income generation, and electricity. At the same time its students develop this infrastructure, Barefoot College helps to promote social awareness and the conservation of ecological systems in the rural communities.
The College teaches, and the students manufacture and maintain, a range of technologies to meet basic needs. Through solar photovoltaics, students provide electricity and lighting for their villages. Through architecture and construction, they build houses, schools, and community centers. Through rainwater harvesting, they provide safe drinking water and increase water for crop irrigation.
Barefoot College places its emphasis on practical skills rather than on diplomas. In fact, it awards no degrees or certificates, but stresses that its graduates serve as resource persons for their communities. It requires its students to remain in their communities and thus contribute to the infrastructure necessary for community advancement. Beginning in Rajasthan in India in 1972, it now has 20 campuses in 13 states throughout India.
In addition to its physical infrastructure projects, Barefoot College aims to create a community “structure” of ideas. It has trained more than 2,500 “barefoot communicators” to travel to villages and produce puppet shows to teach semi-literate populations about health, human rights, and education. They have visited over 3,800 villages since 1981 and addressed over 360,000 people.
CAST, Peabody, Massachusetts
CAST began work in 1984 as the Center for Applied Special Technology. CAST (www.cast.org), guided by research and pedagogical theory, has cre-ated the “Thinking Reader” to address the very spe-cific learning and reading needs of students with dis-abilities. Using existing technologies in an innovative combination, Thinking Readers combine digital text, multimedia, and embedded learning supports through a browser-based environment. The Thinking Readers thus allow physical access to standards-based educa-tional texts and promote the development of reading comprehension skills. Thinking Readers serve the needs of students with various disabilities—physical (blindness, hearing impairment) or cognitive (organi-zational skill loss, dyslexia, developmental disabili-ties). For example, a Thinking Reader uses text-to-speech or screen-reading programs to read aloud to a blind student. It can also print learning materials on a Braille computer. For a hearing-impaired student, a Thinking Reader can present audio materials with captions or open a video window of a person signing.
For a student with learning or organizational disabilities, a Thinking Reader can present learning materials with key points highlighted or provide sup-ports such as concept maps. For students with devel-opmental disabilities, a Reader can use talking illus-trations or multimedia glossaries; it can also record student responses to things like exercises that have the students sound out words.
Thinking Readers can also support English-as- a-second-language students by presenting learning materials both in English and in translation, in both written and spoken forms. Readers can also be con-figured to support students with reading difficulties by adding hyperlinks to word definitions and back-ground concepts.
The flexible nature of the technologies used by the Thinking Reader adjusts both to learning mo-dalities and to disabilities. CAST’s researchers feel that any digital content could work in the Thinking Reader format, making a whole range of educational prod-ucts available to students with disabilities.
Global SchoolNet Foundation, Encinitas, California
The Global SchoolNet Foundation (www.globalschoolnet.org), a developer of online con-tent since 1984, supports classroom use of the Internet for collaborative and service learning. Through a num-ber of different ventures, it partners with schools, com-munities, and businesses to provide learning activities that prepare students for both full economic partici-pation and responsible global citizenship. Its programs connect students and teachers in 25,000 schools in over 75 countries to online mentors in order to pro-mote collaborative learning. By connecting students to community projects, the programs instill the ideals of service learning. While the technology differs for each of a number of different projects, Global SchoolNet achieves wide participation from a variety of schools in different countries.
The Global Schoolhouse provides a project registry so that teachers and schools can seek partners for particular collaborative learning projects. For ex-ample, middle school students in Taiwan and South-ern California jointly explored earthquake prepared-ness and compared experiences. During the war in Bosnia, U.S. high school students received first-hand reports of life in a besieged Bosnian town.
The Global SchoolNet Shared Learning Awards recognize teachers who integrate technology, presenting them as role models for other teachers. By collecting narratives and testimonials from each nomi-nee and by having other teachers rate them, Global SchoolNet not only bases its judging on real-world applications, but also collects and publicizes a library of “best practices” and examples that can help other teachers.
The International Schools CyberFair recruits students to present material about their local commu-nities and their resources. By implementing a peer- and community-review scoring system, students and schools evaluate materials and highlight exemplary projects for imitation. They also gain knowledge of their own communities as well as communities around the world.
Finally, working with the National Science Foundation and Cornell University, Global SchoolNet has implemented the CU-SeeMe Classroom Conferencing Project since 1993. It maintains an inter-national schools registry, discussion lists, and a help desk for teachers who wish to use this Internet-based videoconferencing system to connect classrooms around the world.
Not depending on any one particular approach or technology, Global SchoolNet enables the educa-tional use of Internet-based tools by teachers, students, and schools around the world.
Katha, New Delhi, India
Katha (www.katha.org) promotes education for the urban poor, teacher training and empowerment, the development of teaching/learning materials, and community development. A New Delhi based non-profit organization, Katha began in 1988 to promote literacy, storytelling, and the use of stories to preserve culture and encourage education. Combining the use of tech-nology with progressive constructivist education ap-proaches, Katha now employs information technology in basic education from the earliest years.
Instructional technology forms a part of the entire educational enterprise. Even the youngest chil-dren have access to computers, albeit older ones, so that they will develop a level of comfort with them. Eight computer labs promote student-centered learn-ing in Hindi, English, science, social sciences, math, and computer science. In a trickle-down approach older students develop teaching and learning materials for the younger ones, while gaining practical experience with the new technologies. Still more advanced students study urban design and data interpretation, develop-ing CAD and financial services skills.
Another important element of the Katha model lies in teacher training. Teachers themselves receive training in hands-on uses of computers, multimedia, and connectivity. Through the “Teachers’ Alliance for Quality eEducation,” teachers participate in a network of other teachers and friends to bring virtual volun-teers into a mentoring program.
Since 1990, Katha has also used its technol-ogy to support the translation of teaching and learning materials into the many languages of India. Computer-assisted publishing makes those materials available in the community. True to its initial inspiration, Katha develops new media forms for storytelling, aiming to preserve local cultures and practices. It hopes to branch out to the use of digital video to showcase its people, talents, and materials.
A computer clubhouse encourages hands-on, practical projects to address community issues, such as safe water and reproductive health issues. Children, for example, use computer-linked tools to analyze drink-ing water and reinforce the message to boil water at home, leading to better health in the community. Women have access to the centers and can follow learn-ing modules designed to fit into 30-minute blocks. In time many previously uneducated women complete a 30-hour certification program.
In addition to its main campus in a Delhi slum, Katha has three satellite schools in other slums. It also operates a traveling school, “Tamasha! Roadshow,” a computer-driven educational program able to run at street corners around the city.
Center for Spoken Language Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
The University of Colorado Center for Spo-ken Language Research (http://cslr.colorado.edu) has developed computer-based, personalized, learning tools for children and adults with speech learning dif-ficulties resulting from deafness, autism spectrum dis-orders, dyslexia, and so on. Building on a research-based theoretical foundation in speech, hearing, and learning, the Center has designed and developed a system employing an animated agent to work with profoundly deaf children in order to teach vocabu-lary. The system collects baseline data, provides in-struction, leads the child through practice drills, and evaluates progress.
Other multimedia learning tools (speech syn-thesis, intelligent agents, and animations) support in-struction in various classroom subjects and life skills. Yet other applications work as reading tutors. These tools can be developed to support adult education as well.
The Center has produced a freely available toolkit for developing materials. These development kits enable educators, staff, and students to create multime-dia, learning applications in which 3-D characters en-gage hearing-impaired students. The characters interact with the students to ask questions or to give instructions, to which students respond in a variety of modalities, in-cluding speech practice.
Over 10,000 sites worldwide have installed the CSLU toolkit for research and application development. The Center’s efforts on the toolkit began in 1997.
Other aspects of the Center’s mission include contributing to the basic scientific understanding of speech processing, improving education and access to in-formation, creating and sharing language resources, and developing the next generation of conversational systems.
The applicants and Laureates for the NASDAQ Stock Market Education Award reflect optimism and good news in many ways. First, people across the world think a lot and do a lot about providing access to educa-tion and to educational technology, improving education, and extending our understanding of education. Second, this commitment appears not only in schools, but also in the activities of corporations and non-profit groups, in the actions of researchers and teachers, and in the dedi-cation of individuals of all ages. One impressive project, for example, came from three Australian teenagers. Third, the passion for effective educational technology and the availability of the Internet have in many instances de-mocratized education, providing formerly excluded groups with access to sophisticated technologies and al-lowing thousands of individuals to create materials and tools with a global reach.
Paul A. Soukup, S.J., Chair, Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University
Andrea Gooden, Manager, Global Community Development Department, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Pedro Hernandez-Ramos, Assistant Professor of Education, Program Director, Center for Science, Technology, and Society, and Director of the Education Department’s MA program emphasis in "Teaching and Learning with Technology," Santa Clara University
Emile McAnany, Walter Schmidt, S.J., Professor of Communication, and Chair of the Communication Department, Santa Clara University
Jouko Salo, Senior Technical Advisor, National Technical Agency, Finland
Keith Yocam, Consultant, and former Director of Programs, Schools Online