Posted by Anthony Salcito 
Vice President, Worldwide Education

As educators, government officials and business leaders look for collaborative ways to reform U.S. education, we believe “service-learning” and technology can play central roles in the success of our young people.

I’ve blogged before about the benefits of connecting kids to volunteerism (see posts here and here). Right now, only 32 percent of elementary and secondary schools offer service-learning opportunities, which incorporate community service into education to teach the value of civic responsibility.  But we know the benefits are widespread. Likewise, the demonstrated effects of career and technical education (CTE) have included higher scores in math and science and lower dropout rates. So, we think service and technology could be the perfect marriage.

We also know that in addition to technology support, teachers need help enriching their curriculum with interactive and comprehensive classroom experiences that keep students engaged. And we know kids have embraced the role of technology in their lives -- often they know more than their teachers about computers and mobile devices! -- and are excited about the opportunity to give back. So, in partnership with theCorporation for National and Community Service, today we are excited to announce the Service & Technology Academic Resource Team (START).

 

The START initiative spotlights student-led approaches to technology learning and service. We are partnering with six schools from across the nation to become models for other schools seeking innovative ways to transform teaching and learning. We will help them identify, build and scale proven methods for successfully integrating service and technology in the classroom. We want to help build awareness and momentum around the idea that students are a critical education resource. We believe students can become academic and technical resources for educators, and in doing so provide a great service to their school and communities.  It may even get them excited about a career in technology.

Teachers and students from the six START schools announced today have an amazing opportunity to showcase their student technology programs to Karen Cator, the newly appointed director of education technology for the U.S. Department of Education. Policymakers and organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Youth Service Council, National Geographic and Smithsonian, among others, will also participate in our START launch event in Washington, D.C.

It takes a community to prepare our children for the future. I am encouraged by all of the partners willing to help prepare kids for the global workforce and enrich them with technology skills that are increasingly important as we think about the broader challenges we face across the globe.