Connected: Disrupting Education Through Technology

[In] 20 years I feel like maybe the world
will have flying cars, people wouldn’t have to go out to buy stuff anymore, it
could just be mailed to them. It would be very fun and technology everywhere. What we’re seeing here is the evolution of education. The thing that excites me most is I grew up in this area, I know a lot of the families still, and this program—
what is happening here at FDR—is changing the trajectory of a lot of kids,
because they have the opportunity to use technology in a way that they didn’t
before. So things started transforming for us a few years back when we received
a grant from Verizon. For the ship being this small, it will take four and a half
hours just to print. The little ship I created in a website called Tinkercad. So
it’s the War of 1812, so some kids are creating a VR experience around the war.
You’re creating the ship here. They’re using technology to actually respond to
the assignment that the teacher has given them, and they’re creating all
different products using what they’ve learned in this lab. In the beginning, it
was really hard. How will you know that they learned something? Once you give them that freedom, that’s terrifying at first, but then, once they start trying
that—there’s joy and it looks a little chaotic, because you’re not in roads and
people aren’t raising their hands. You need to be prepared to walk by a room
and say, “That’s learning, because I see everybody’s engaged and they’re
producing something.” It has to have a clean surface in order for it to print
out. Kids’ attention spans have reduced over the last few years with access to
the Internet. So it’s different from when maybe I was in school forty years ago,
but you had to learn through a textbook. You had one instructor at the front
of the room. With gaming and other experiences that they’re having, we have to also bring those experiences into the school system,
because that’s what gets them engaged, and that’s what we do with the lab and
with the technology that we bring in schools. When we first started this
program, we didn’t have IT in the building to support this. A “Tiger Tech,” is
a student tech leader who supports technology, our school, and our district. We serve as a tech program because Verizon gave us a grant. They wanted to find out
what would happen if we integrated technology with education. So, I was a part of the first generation of that. So, I always come back, even though I graduated
five years ago, because I always want to help, because I feel like it’s a part of
me now. Devin actually has a clue about a lot more technology than I do—in coding
and engineering and physics. Maybe we should move this over to the disc and
maybe that’ll work. If it doesn’t open in this, we’re probably going to just try to put
it into the 3D printer and see if this works. I think the biggest technology out
there right now is VR and how VR and AR is evolving fastly, too. It’s important to
be fluent in technology, because there’s no way to escape it. We’re going into a
future where technology is going to be part of every aspect in life. So when you
think about the workplace of the future, it’s a place where you need different
skill sets. Mundane tasks are going to be automated. The tasks where you’re able to
memorize certain things and sit at a desk all day, that workplace is not going
to be existed. We’re disrupting education. Education doesn’t change very rapidly,
but we partner with schools and districts and teachers to bring these
types of innovative practices so that we can make those changes working alongside
them. Being human is going to be the best
resource we have. Our brains are meant to create and we’re meant to connect to
people. A building, a room, a place can be a catalyst, especially for the students
that we’re trying to reach. Can you imagine if you have a whole generation
of kids growing up loving learning, loving technology, loving science, loving
exploration? You have happy people, you have people who are willing to make the
world better.

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