Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BLE Group

Amerindian woman and child in the Sacred Valle...Image via WikipediaI had the opportunity to serve on 3 panels as a member of the BLE Group at FETC in Orlando, FL. Quite the experience. Not only the interaction with the vendors and their cutting edge technologies and products, but the discussions with my fellow members were outstanding. I made contacts with superintendents, CIOs, technology leaders and integration specialists - people who are experts in their own areas. I feel truly humbled and honored to be associated with such a great group of leaders.

I won't go into great detail on two of my panels, simply for confedintiality purposes. But I will say a few words about each:

  • McGraw Hill has hit a home-run. They have a game changer coming and it will revoluntionize the textbook industry. If you haven't read my earlier post about e-textbooks - now would be a good time - and it will give some precursors as to what we saw from them. I feel fortunate to have a hand in helping shape this revolutionary product.
  • I also had the opportunity to work with Knowledge Delivery Systems who specialize in on-line professional development. We were able to provide feedback to KDSI in how PD is shaped in our respective districts and to what degree will on-line PD play a part in the future of professional development.
The highlight of the event for me was to participate in the panel with the Peruvian Ministry of Education. Peru is one of the lowest achieving nations in the world in math and reading. They struggle to reach students because of geographical barriers and also struggle to train their teachers. The ministry decided it was time for a radical change and that change was in the form of a 1:1 initiative utilizing the XO computers.

Our panel was charged with providing hard information to them and what changes needed to happen in order for this project to be successful. We informed their representative that he needed real data to show that student learning is increasing. We also informed him that peer-to-peer tutoring is a viable option, especially allowing teachers and students to learn together. (Considering their teachers struggle mastering basic skills.)

I could sit here and write all evening about what I saw and heard about the project in Peru. I admire their Ministry of Education for having the vision to make change and believe in the future on their children. They have a large task ahead of them and with the proper support, encouragement, data driven decision making and training - they can and will make a difference.

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