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How to Argue for Technology
Posted by John Sullivan at 01:38:17 PM Fri 02/25/2011

By Heather Chirtea

Executive Director, Digital Wish

We are all feeling the crunch of declining school funding. Technology budgets, which are often viewed as expendable, can take a big hit. In order to secure funding for technology it is necessary to provide a compelling argument to decision makers, explaining why technology is critical to education. You will be hard pressed to find a conclusive body of research that actually draws a connection between technology usage and increased test scores. So, in a recessionary environment of declining funding, how do you convince funders that technology is important?

Change the argument! Test scores are not the answer.

Argue for Economic Development
Try crafting a connection between your technology initiative and the future economic development of the workforce and your community.
Consider this: if students are tech-savvy, then businesses hiring technology workers will be able to hire locally and sustain or grow their operations. Graduates who find local jobs will stay in local communities, raise families, buy houses, contribute to the tax base, and start new local businesses. A technologically rounded education has the downstream effect of promoting the economic development and future growth of an entire community. It sparks systemic change.
Companies and colleges are spending an estimated $17 billion per year to train recent graduates in the basic skills they should have gained in school. Students need technological competence to succeed in the competitive workforce. New entrepreneurs can work from anywhere, start businesses, and bring new growth opportunities to local communities.

Talk about Globalization
America's position in the flattened global economy has declined and shortfalls in the technical workforce are hurting American businesses. Just ask your local businesses. According to Deloitte LLP, only 22% of high school students feel schools have done an "excellent" job preparing them for college. In order to remain competitive in global markets, our school systems must prepare our students with the skills they need to compete globally.

Raise a Moral Question
In a 2007 survey, 75% of educators classified themselves as "often in need of" or "desperate for" technology resources. Bob Stevens, the Executive Director of the Vermont Principal's Association stated that the lack of technology in the classroom can be likened to "educational malpractice." Schools need access to technology so that students can develop the skills they need to thrive.

Point out Relevance
85% of teens ages 12-17 engage in some form of electronic personal communication, including text messaging, emailing, or online social networking. Yet students are faced with a pencil-and-paper education. Relevant technology tools will inspire our students to learn and engage in their education.

Discuss Student Engagement
"...Increases in student engagement" are the #1 most common benefit cited by schools who employ one-computer-per-child initiatives. Here is a one idea to present. The effective life of a computer in a school is approximately 4 years. The effective career of a student through your school is probably similar. You might want to turn over the computers' "pink slips" to students as a bonus upon graduation. This not only saves the cost of disposing obsolete equipment, but students will take much better care of equipment they know is "theirs when they graduate". It is also an added motivation to stay in school at a time when the drop-out rate is so dramatically high.

Focus on Workforce Development

As technology funding erodes, our teachers become progressively less able to prepare students for future employment in the rapidly expanding global economy. The Journal of Industrial Technology reports that over the past 2 decades, enrollment in technical degrees has decreased by as much as 11%, while the demand for technical workers has risen by 29%. Businesses are sounding the alarm. Without students receiving adequate exposure to technology in schools, it becomes increasingly difficult to find and hire technologically qualified graduates from the local economy. It's a silent and cumulative crisis that now threatens to undermine our children's future.

If we don't, then...

Consider what's going to happen to your school and town if you don't modernize schools with technology. Brainstorm the worst-case scenario, then share the story with your potential funders. It will sound something like this, "...if our students aren't savvy, local businesses can't hire. Those who are savvy will leave and never return because there are no job opportunities..."

Tell Stories
It is much easier for a decision maker to fund a "human interest" story than a piece of equipment. This works incredibly well with politicians. If you ever get the opportunity to appeal to your school board or local legislator, don't do the presentation yourself. Rather, invite a few students to speak on your behalf. Let the students explain why they need technological skills to prepare for college and get a job. Remember, you are not trying to put technology in schools, rather you are preparing students for the future workforce in the global economy. You are fighting for your children's future!

Craft a Financial Argument
Many rural states experience a "Brain Drain" wherein graduates leave to attend college and don't return. Consider the financial effect on the state's tax base. Each student who stays in the local area will get a job, raise a family, buy a house, and contribute to the local tax base (which in most states contributes directly to education funding). Regardless of whether your state suffers from a "Brain Drain," you can calculate the annual financial gain to the tax base and local economy based on average salary rates in your state for each student who decides to "stay local." Every 1% of students who stay contribute $XX.XX to the tax base and $XX.XX to the local economy each year. Over a lifetime, a single family can bring an additional $XX.XX to your community. Hard numbers are what decision makers need to justify re-allocating funds. Remember, a savvy student can work from anywhere.

Calculate the Percent of Total Spending
Calculate the total education budget in your funding region (school, district, or state), then consider what percentage of that budget would be necessary to put a computer in every student's backpack. It is a sure bet that you will be able to craft a true and compelling statement such as, "Less than one half of 1% of the total education budget would put a computer on the desk of every single student in our district." You will quickly realize how small that percentage really is.

You may republish this article and the images (together) in your newsletter, as long as you include the following credit:

By Heather Chirtea, Executive Director, Digital Wish, heather@digitalwish.org

Digital Wish is on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in American classrooms. Invite your teachers to make their technology wish lists at www.digitalwish.org, then invite parents and community members to donate.  Flip video cameras are available to US schools through a 2-for-1 matching program. Digital Wish has brought technology grants to over 22,000 classrooms and maintains a vibrant community of over 50,000 educators.

Short Term Opportunity: Recycle Forward Pays Double for Cell Phones
Posted by John Sullivan at 02:56:27 PM Wed 01/12/2011

Cartridges for Kids has announced that they are offering double pay for cell phones donated through Recycle Forward campaigns between January 19th- 21st. All you have to do to get this bonus for your campaign is e-mail contact@cartridgesforkids.com with your school name and zip code, write "DOUBLE PAY" on your shipping labels and arrange to have your boxes picked up by FedEx on one of those three days!

Recycle Forward is a program that allows schools to raise money for classroom technology by recycling cell phones, used electronics, and ink cartridges. Participating schools can set up a community-wide recycling campaign to collect used equipment from parents and local businesses. 100% of the money earned is automatically matched with another 2%-10% in funding on Digital Wish to make teacher's classroom technology wishes come true!

Visit http://www.recycleforwardnow.org/ to sign up and start a campaign for new classroom technology in your community today!

Inspiration for Learning: How Classroom Technology Influenced My Path
Posted by John Sullivan at 12:16:32 PM Mon 11/29/2010

Written By John Sullivan- Communications Manager, Digital Wish

Digital Wish's mission resonates with many across America: to solve technology shortfalls in American classrooms. By helping teachers obtain technology for their classrooms, Digital Wish hopes today's students will be better prepared for the technology dependent jobs of the future.

But some may ask how we can measure tangible results when we're working with students who won't be entering the workforce for possibly another decade or more?

I volunteer myself as a possible example.

Exposed to technology from a young age by my father, who is possibly the most gifted man I have ever seen work with a computer, I have always felt at home working with control panels and (relatively) sensitive system preferences. With all the information available online, once one has even a basic grasp of how to use technology, the world is yours to prod with the digital stick.

But that's besides the point- I would not be a programmer like my father, as endless lines of code held absolutely no appeal for me. The ever- idealist, I was interested in words giving birth to ideas and the life of the harried journalist seemed to be my destiny as I started to apply for colleges.

My birthday that year, however, threw an unexpected wrench into my tertiary education plans with one simple gift: a video camera.

With this tool, I suddenly found a new, creative storytelling medium: video. The ability to splice together short clips like words felt natural to me and I quickly shifted my post- grad plans to cater to this new interest. With the heralded downfall of traditional print media accompanying the rise of the Internet, I saw promise in becoming not a journalist, but a video editor. I transferred my major to a Radio/TV/Film concentration upon arriving at Marist College and never looked back.

Now, working for Digital Wish, I am in charge of a huge range of technology intensive tasks from editing multimedia to coordinating social media efforts, all the while connecting with those who can benefit from our mission, no matter where they are-- and I love the ever- changing excitement of each task.

This is why I get excited whenever I see a new Flip Camera 2- for- 1 package being shipped to a classroom. While my college education more than prepared me for the workforce today, I sometimes wonder how advanced my skills could be if I had had one of these wonderfully easy-to-use cameras in my fourth grade classroom.

I imagine the next Lumiere, Spielberg, or Coppolla getting their first spark of creative energy in an Iowa classroom, fueled by the sight and satisfaction of a completed digital video project. I envision the next Katie Couric or Tom Brokaw getting ready to record a podcast for their Lousiana school's morning broadcast.

Most importantly, I see young versions of me, engaged in school and learning, because they are working with the technology and media of their world, their digital language. They may not become famous, or rich, but they will be ready for the challenges of the coming years and have the knowledge to intelligently collaborate with the global society around them in whatever role they choose to fill.

This is the trend of the age we are in: constant innovation, constant learning, constant excitement. It's not just up to our teachers to fulfill this need, it's everyone's job to bring excitement for learning into our children's education.

Special Bundle on Livescribe smartpens
Posted by John Sullivan at 11:18:31 AM Tue 11/09/2010

Digital Wish and Livescribe are excited to offer special pricing on Livescribe Echo™ smartpens for educators. Digital Wish teachers can purchase the Echo smartpens at the discounted bulk pricing for a single pen. In addition, each purchase will include the education bundle (valued at $49.95), which contains a starter notebook, a USB cable, 2 ink cartridges, a K-12 Deployment Guide and MyScript Software*. Prior to this promotion, this offer was only available on purchases of ten or more pens.

The 8 GB model is available here: http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/product?id=ECHO8

The 4 GB model can be found here: http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/product?id=ECHO4

*MyScript included with the 8GB pen only. 4GB Pen includes all accessories except MyScript software.

Squire Legacy Club Preserves Delone Catholic High School History
Posted by John Sullivan at 03:35:23 PM Wed 10/13/2010

Written by guest blogger, Julia Tutino

For many high school students, summertime is all about living in the moment, but for a dozen Delone Catholic students, the Summer of 2010 was all about living in the past. For seven weeks this summer, these students worked in the school archives, creating a digital record of the school's 70-year history.

Social Studies teacher Julia Tutino established the Squire Legacy Club during the 2009-10 school year. "Several students had told me that they would love to study history in college, but they didn't want to teach. They didn't realize that there are all sorts of positions out there for public historians," says Tutino, "I thought that by taking care of the school's history - their own history - that I could show them what historians do, rather than just tell them about it."

Throughout the school year, Miss Tutino and the students in the club purchased archival quality boxes for the deteriorating scrapbook collection, which had been diligently assembled by volunteers over the years. They also conducted interviews with some of the first students to walk the halls of Delone Catholic and began research for exhibits that they created for display during the celebration of Delone Catholic`s 70th anniversary earlier this month.

The Squire Legacy Club visited homerooms just prior to summer vacation. With hands covered by cotton gloves, they carefully carried a copy of The Oak from 1928 to each class. That copy of The Oak, which was the yearbook for Delone Catholic`s predecessor, Central Catholic, is the oldest item in the school archives.

After that round of "show-and-tell", recruiting students to help with the summer digitization project was easier than they expected. Nathaniel Post, class of 2011, signed up to work on the summer project because he needed to earn school service hours, but after working on several projects, he said, "I don't think a lot of other students in school know about its history. It's interesting, and I think they would want to hear about it."

In all, twelve students worked on the archives project this summer, totaling more than 270 hours. Two students, Alexander Arigo, class of 2011, and Kasey Myers, class of 2013, came in nearly every day. Arigo, a senior who plans to study public history, used digital photography to preserve the scrapbook collection.

"Through researching and reading old artifacts I have learned to capture the exact feel of something," said Arigo, "Archives have also opened up the door for a lot of people to rediscover our heritage and tradition."

He has also learned lessons that he will apply to other school activities. "In the yearbook, it is important to get all the facts right and not leave anything out, like peoples' names. It serves more value to put in the time to make it right the first time."

Myers became an expert at scanning yearbooks and taught the process to other volunteers. While the digitization process has only just begun, the students were able to create over 7,100 images in just seven weeks. The Squire Legacy Club will continue to work on digitization throughout the 2010-11 school year, and again next summer.

Digital Wish Brings 1:1 Computing to Schools Through the eVermont Partnership
Posted by Heather Chirtea at 02:00:52 PM Mon 05/24/2010

Digital Wish is extremely excited to be a partner in e-Vermont, the Community Broadband Project.  Over the coming months we will be working with leaders from participating organizations and exploring fellow 1:1 computing initiatives across the nation. This grant will empower us to bring 1:1 computing to selected classrooms throughout Vermont as a means to strengthen local communities and the state’s economy.

Overall, e-Vermont’s statewide partners will help local groups develop ways to take full advantage of the Internet for job creation, school innovation, providing social services, and increasing civic involvement. Digital Wish will provide essential training so that students, teachers, and parents can use the internet more effectively.  With sets of computers that travel from school to home, internet projects and community engagement will flourish.  When 21st century tools and teaching practices become an integral part of every day, at school and at home, student engagement, motivation, and participation rise across the curriculum.

In addition, by structuring the implementation of the program on the success of Digital Wish’s pilot schools, we will further refine a replicable model for school technology adoption that can eventually be utilized by schools across the nation.

Community, connection, and classroom learning are keys to a successful future, and effective internet use will create a generation of students who will form the basis of a new knowledge economy.

Digital Wish embraces this opportunity to help prepare students for the 21st century workforce and ensure future economic development. We are looking forward to working in classrooms with students, educators, and administrators, as well as with parents and communities. We will share everything we learn, and all the tools we develop, freely through www.digitalwish.org so that all school statewide and nationwide can benefit. We encourage you to contact us with any questions.

For more information about the towns involved and general info about the e-Vermont project please visit http://www.vtrural.org/

We'll see you in the classroom,
 Heather Chirtea
 Digital Wish
 (802) 375-6721 ext. 202

 Eric Bird
 Lead Trainer/Peer Coach
 Digital Wish
 (802) 681-8840

Classroom Connection with Haiti
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 10:56:32 AM Thu 05/06/2010

Written by guest-blogger, Christine Berg

Last spring, after a presentation at a staff meeting about the benefits of service learning in the classroom, I decided to design my own service learning project for my French IV class. I contacted a former French teacher at our school, who is Haitian, about partnering with a school in Haiti. My vision was that we would correspond with them via email and video, and organize a benefit to help them purchase whatever supplies they needed for their school.

I contacted our IT department to find out what video equipment we had available, and they advised me to request the Flip video camera from our librarian. My students and I fell in love with it the first time we used it. It was so easy and fun to use! I immediately decided to use the grant money that I had received for the project from NYSAFLT (the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers) to purchase a Flip video camera for our friends in Haiti. Thus began our correspondence. On January 12th of this year, a massive earthquake hit the exact spot where our partner school was located. We were beside ourselves with worry. We took up a collection at our school and raised $500 for them within a few days. After about a week, we had an email from one of the teachers saying that the school had been destroyed, and the whereabouts of many of the students were unknown. They were going to move their base of operations a few miles out of Port-au-Prince and try to set up a relief center there. We sent them the money we had raised, and set about organizing a benefit where we were able to raise an additional $2800 for them. A few weeks later, we received an email stating that the school was caring for 60 children with the money we had sent. The best part was the attached video (taken with the Flip video camera, which had miraculously survived the quake!) of the children thanking us in French for our support. This was an amazing, life changing experience, and would not have been nearly as meaningful without the Flip video camera.

I have become such a believer in the power of the Flip that I recently convinced our district to purchase one for a student who was selected to study abroad in Russia for a semester through the National Strategic Language Initiative for Youth. She has been sending videos of her experiences in Russia which I have been sharing with my
students. These videos have energized my students and have had a tremendously positive impact on students’ interest in language learning and travel. They have opened a window to the world for them.

The Flip video camera is an incredible tool which can bring people and
cultures together, which is what language learning is all about.

Current Issues Class Comes to Life with Flip Video
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 10:26:10 AM Thu 04/22/2010
For nearly 10 years, Bob Wood has spent much of his time outside of the classroom trying to bring new concepts into the classroom. During his summers, Wood travels and studies, conducting interviews and taking notes for his students to analyze and discuss within the scope of history. Recently however, Wood has added the Flip Video Camcorder to his storytelling arsenal.

Written by Digital Wish teacher Bob Wood:

In Senior Current Issues at Oakridge High School in Muskegon, Michigan, we focus on issues of the day. I’ve taught the course since 2000. All things political, international and domestic, natural disasters like Katrina, and this past January the earthquake in Haiti, land in our lap. If the kids feel the urge to get involved - we move. The course also provides us the chance to use Flip cameras for a myriad of assignments. From interviewing local small business owners to “four a year” student video diaries, the Flip serves as a creative tool for class projects. This year Oakridge student efforts for earthquake relief in Haiti and my use of a Flip camera came together quite nicely on a sunny Sunday morning in Selma, Alabama.

The Haiti earthquake moved many high school students around the world to action. An article in the February 5th New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/06/world/americas/06tuberculosis.html?hpw provided us inspiration. Touched by the story of Pierre-Louis Monfort’s tuberculosis clinic, my students began a passionate effort to aid those struggling to survive in Haiti. We sold t-shirts, secured donations and pledges for a 24-hour fast of solidarity with Haitians in need, and invited local high schools to join us. Our cheerleaders wore Help Heal Haiti T-shirts as uniform tops and our basketball team warmed up in them on Fast Night. The entire Oakridge Community joined in. In the end we raised $3,129, which with contacts gained through the Times article, we were able to wire directly to the streets of Port Au-Prince.

The Flip video camera entered the picture the following week. I was in Selma, Alabama for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which takes place annually and pays homage to the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights movement. On Sunday morning prior to the Bridge procession when speeches were being made outside on the steps of Brown Chapel, I explored inside the church.  It was quiet and empty except for a handful of people near the back pews having their photo taken with an elegantly dressed man.  They asked if I could take the picture.  I did…and was introduced to Raymond Joseph, Haitian Ambassador to the United States.  I filled Ambassador Joseph in on our fundraiser, that a bunch of kids in a small rural school in West Michigan had fasted for 24 hours and collected over $3,000 for his beleaguered nation, and that we were giving our donations to Mr. Pierre Louis Monfort and his tuberculosis clinic in Port-Au-Prince. Ambassador Joseph too had read the story in the Times.  He was touched by our compassion and conveyed through me a generous message of gratitude to all of my students.  His only regret was that he could not thank them in person. 

Luckily, I always travel with my trusty Flip video camera. I asked Ambassador Joseph if he wouldn’t mind telling them himself. He was pleased to do so…and here it is: See Video!

To be able to bring this thank you message from the Ambassador of Haiti back to my students in Muskegon made our mission complete. With the video, my students and my school were able to truly feel the gratitude for all of their hard work to “Help Heal Haiti.”

To follow our entire Help Heal Haiti campaign please go to bhttp://blogs.muskegonisd.org/bwood/ 

Bob Wood - Oakridge High School Muskegon, Michigan

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