Tuesday, March 15, 2011

HP Catalyst Grant

Sunday March 13, 2011

(Sorry about the delay in this update...a combination of inconsistent schedules and power have made this a little late. :-) )

We collect for our next set of meetings. This allowed us to do some sharing as to what we learned from the last few days and to report what we discovered. Many of the comments related to the amazing opportunity that the collaborative work represents. There were many discussion of new connections between projects. For example, one project about cell phone learning opportunities found itself connect with a cloud computing project and a GIS project across three continents! This would not have happened without the Catalyst Consortium connections.

We next returned to our own sub-group, the Global Collaboratory, to dig deepen for connections and report out what we might do to maintain this new set of connections as we return to our many different location on Earth! We decided to rely initially on the ISTE bulletin board for a starting place but ultimately may have a unique space dedicated to our work created by one of our members.

Next we presented our project in a poster session and had many visitors to our table to discuss the potential impact of the Scofield Project.

Bryan and I found ourselves thinking about the role of virtual desktops and GIS in our own project and will be examining opportunities to widen the scope of our project (or deepen the connection to these topics) right away. Colleagues that we met from Texas and Spain may help us articulate our ideas and turn them into action for our students at Scofield. Another idea that I found interesting was the way in which cell phone learning is being embraced in many parts of the world as many kids have cell phones but no reliable internet connection at home. A new friend from China University may allow me to explore this idea further. Last but not least was another HP colleague from Kenya named Issac who was anxious to have our kids understand water issues in his area of the world and the impact they are having on the lives of young women. He is a chemist and is working on Malaria issues also. He was insisting that we visit him in Kenya...but I may need a break from New Delhi first! :-) It was amazing to see how eager these high powered scientists from universities all over the world were to find connections to us, a middle school in Stamford, CT.

We then had an informal session where many of us who were soon to be parted connected and took photos in order to remember the warm connections that have been made in New Delhi.

We will do our best to take advantage of these amazing opportunities in the coming days!

Respectfully Submitted.

Jim Forde and Bryan Olkowski

Saturday, March 12, 2011

HP Catalyst Conference

Saturday March 12th

Another great day in begins in New Delhi. We started with a keynote speech from Sridhar Rajagopalan of Educational Initiatives. He discussed his approach to assessments for India that are created by his company. He wondered why cell phone are updated every three months but schooling never seems to change? His approach to testing is to produce low stakes tests that function as benchmarks to inform instruction. He finds students full of science misconceptions that are revealed by testing. His product produces personalized reports and has remediation Mindspark software. The focus should be, "what are they getting, not what am I covering." They are helping to move from an "assessment of learning" model to an "assessment is learning" one. Great talk.

We then switch our focus to assessment of our projects. Stephan Vincent-Lacrin of OECD helped focus us on the elements of a good study and useful assessments. We then turned to members of our group to explore how we are planning to assess our grant projects. We struggled with the idea of assessing learning exchanges like ours and and discussed ways to identify measurable outcomes and construct a control group. This is going to require more thought!

We then received a brief tutorial of a web site known as the Navigator Project and were exposed to a grant program from Google to encourage innovation in education.

Next , Jim from HP announced another round of funding to participants to support intra-consortia sharing and connecting. One of the values of this project is professional sharing between projects. This really had everyone's wheels spinning!

After a short break we then visited two workshops of our choice and a display poster sessions of 1/2 of the participant projects. It was a nice chance to ask more questions about the great topics being covered from around the world.

Last stop for the night was a local public school which put on a science fair for us to demonstrate their skills. It was fun. The kids were great. They were very enthusiastic and really wanted to connect with all of us. They were taking pictures with us and liked practicing their English with us.

Before we left HP generously left three dream screen computers behind for the school!

What a day!

Repectfully Submitted.

Jim Forde and Bryan Olkowski.

Friday, March 11, 2011

HP Catalyst Conference

Friday March 11, 2011

After a quick breakfast it was time to head to the ballroom to hear a keynote speech from Sunil Dutt, HP VP and general manager PSG India. He enlightened us with facts about India and it's educational system.

(Gentleman on the right is a Google representative.)

Here are a few that stood out to me:

1) India is the world's largest democracy - 1.15 Billion people
2) It has 22 languages with 1600 dialects
3) 70% of India's population is rural
4) They are striving to democratize and modernize their educational system.
5) One interesting quote was, " We are trying to exercize our minds towards innovation, not just securing jobs."
6) 7% of students graduate and head to higher education.
7) 42% of kids drop out by class 5.
8) Although India leads the world with 690,000 science and math graduates annually, it is still a very small number relative to their population. (USA has 420,000/year)
9) Teacher absence is a major problem in the schools of India as well as teacher quality and staff development.

HP Technology might help all of the above by helping engage kids, track school data (like achievement, school lunch info, teacher absenteeism etc.) meet special needs students and provide curricula and professional development.

One quote that resonated was.... "Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
Abraham Flexner.

That was the first hour...whew!

We then had an opportunity to listen to a keynote panel from several foundation leader about "Visions of Education Innovation".

Speaker 1- Here we heard that 50% of level 5 students can;t read their tests well and 40% can't do simple division problems. School certification needs a makeover to improve education. Tech can help to do this by being a disruptive force. The speaker suggested that similarly to the way people in India deal with traffic (which btw is amazing), they will find their way!

Speaker 2- 95% of kids are enrolled in school. Engineers from India often need "repair" before working. If student achieve rises 1/2 standard deviation it result in .87% GDP rise. Not insignificant! A recent report suggested that the schools need to track achievement better and improve teacher staff development, but how does this happen with so many culture and languages? This is where cell phones, the Inernet and cloud computing might help.

Speaker 3- There is low teacher capacity leading to low learning outcomes. There is inadequate infrastructure and not enough disadvantaged kids are participating. Out of 100 kids, 48 graduate and 11 head to higher ed. To improve education instructional radio, ed videos, video conferencing technology and multimedia kits are helping.

We were then introduced to the different catalyst grant groups and their special focuses. It was an amazing diversity of projects that you can see at the HP Catalyst grant web site.

Next our group of principal investigators from the Global Collaboratory group met for two hours in order to look for connections between our projects. It was a rigorous and challenging conversation and planning session which resulted in an amazing vision of a possible collaboration scheme. The big question is ow does a middle school water quality project relate to high speed computing in Russia or cloud computing in Egypt or Virtualization in Washington State? Whew... exhausting.

Then we had cloud computing and it's potential demonstrated for us in our next panel. Using free open source code three projects were described and how they create specific computing structures to support educational project that effect learning.

Dinner and then we had a special visit from the Agastya International foundation which runs mobile science buses to teach kids throughout India! there are 55 roving science vehicles enlightening kids and turning them on to hands-on science. The speech by the foundation head, Ramji Raghavan, was moving as he retold his story of moving from wall street banker to the development of this non-profit and his need to reach children and spark their curiosity for science.

It was an tiring and long day that challenged all intellectually, emotionally and physically but we left charged up with the potential our projects could have to improve global education.

Respetfully Submitted.

Jim Forde and Bryan Olkowski

Thursday, March 10, 2011

HP Catalyst Conference

Thursday March 10, 2011

We started our day with a quick breakfast and then off to a cultural tour of New Delhi.

We visited our first stop, The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and toured the Lab in a Box concept. This is a self contained computer lab that cab dropped anywhere on Earth!

Next we visited two local school on the same campus. First was the Mother's International school where we heard a moving message about the philosophy of their school, which is rooted in meeting the physical, intellectual and spiritual needs of their students. It is definitely a "making a life rather than making a living" philosophy of education that was delivered beautifully.

We than saw the setting of an experimental elementary school that approaches learning differently and had had much success. It is called an ICIE school.

We then stopped for an authentic Indian lunch.

After that we were off to two famous cultural tourist spots. Humayun's Tomb and the India Gate.

We returned to the hotel at about 6:30 PM and quickly attended a 7 PM meeting to meet our Global Collaboratory peers. We shared the focus of our projects and searched for ways in which they might be interconnected and synergistic. The following organizations are in our sub-group: Cairo University, Coventry University, Del Mar College, Easy Carolina University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kenya, and (last but not least) the Stamford Public Schools. It was an exciting but challenging conversation that will set the tone for the next three days of work.

We'll keep you posted! Namaste.

Respectfully submitted.

Jim Forde and Bryan Olkowski

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Project Narrative

The Challenge of Water Quality Project
China and United States ‘Sister Schools’ Seek Solutions Together

Scofield Magnet Middle School
Shandong University Middle School
Connecticut, USA

Water pollution is an enormous challenge, anyone would agree, but is it something middle schoolers could possibly help with? Most people may see this as too complex for anyone but lab-coated scientists and environmentalists, but students at Scofield Magnet Middle School in Stamford, Connecticut are now actively involved in real-world analysis of groundwater.

Working with a variety of community organizations and utilizing HP technology, classes track data about quality of water, topography, drainage, flora and fauna, as well as the impact of urban development.

Scofield students are learning first-hand how development in their community impacts local waterways, reading local newspapers depicting the contamination issue, and meeting with environmental reporters to discuss investigative journalism. By working with Shandong University Middle School, Scofield hopes to cast an international spotlight on the rapidlygrowing issue of poor water quality. The nearby Huangshui River Basin, the focus of the Shandong project, is recognized as one of the most polluted river systems in China. The project is putting students on both continents side by side with scientists and other experts in 2010 HP Catalyst Initiative

A project of the Office of Global Social Innovation at HP
the field, giving them the chance to practice skills and techniques relevant to science and environmentally related careers.
The classes have already begun testing pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform, turbidity,water flow, water depth and temperature, using GPS, HP Mobile Calculating Lab probes, HP calculators, notebook computers, and GIS software to document their findings.

The questions driving our research.

These questions are at the core of the work we will be doing over the next two school years.

1) Does the water quality of ground water vary in different locations in our community?

2) How does water quality in our community affect human health and/or local ecology.

3) What can be done to improve water quality in our community.

Consider this article.....

Click here for an interesting article about water quality issues in India and possible innovative solutions.