Posted by Leslie S. Conery, ISTE Deputy CEO
On the second leg of our online global tour of the HP Catalyst Initiative projects that ISTE has had the privilege of working with, we’ll travel more than 7,000 miles from our last stop at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, to Cautin, Chile, where the Liceo Bicentenario Araucania’s Finding Solutions project has transformed the school into a technology-driven 21st century learning environment.
When this school first became an HP Catalyst Initiative project site in 2009, the transformation began with a focus on math instruction. Today, the entire administrative and instructional staff – many of whom previously had no experience with technology – has been trained to use the Internet, PCs, and other technology. Teachers now use computers to support instruction across the curriculum as well as to monitor student progress, and the intra-school communication has moved to email.
As the result of support from the Chilean government, seventh- and eighth- graders have one-to-one access to laptop computers. A robotics course, where students are working side by side to develop the curriculum, is now a part of the school’s course offerings. In fact, the school now has a website. Elizabeth Saavedra, Liceo Bicentenario Arauncania professor of 7th and 8th grade mathematics, traveled to ISTE 2012 to share how an online collaborative environment is helping students strengthen their math skills by using computer tools to solve problems.
The project has had a great impact on students from lower income families who previously had no access to technology. The initiative has allowed the school to provide students with access to to Microsoft Office, the Internet, and e-mail and online social networks, such as Facebook. This technology has helped to strengthen the home-school connection as well as create a sense of pride for the school community and the community at large.
In fact, teachers and administrators at the school agree that the infusion of technology into the curriculum has profoundly changed the lives of their students by increasing their self-esteem and their joy and enthusiasm for learning. Our trip half way around the world to a vastly different country illustrates that the power of technology to transform teaching and learning is truly global.