Helping Students Succeed: What Intel is Doing to Make Learning Engaging

Recently, at a conference on education reform, I heard a state superintendent from one of the country’s highest performing states share a comment I found concerning. He said he believed there would be a tension between meeting more rigorous common core standards and personalizing learning for students to make schools relevant and engaging to learners.

While I have a lot of personal respect for this man, I think his comment reflects a common misperception that our country has to overcome in order for school improvement to succeed. As I sat in the conference room, looking around at a sizeable crowd of over-40-somethings, it occurred to me that educational, corporate and government leaders need to be promoting exactly the opposite message. I think the only way we will have all students meet rigorous standards is to make the learning completely personal, relevant and engaging.

At a time when an overwhelming number of students feel disconnected from school – according to a Time Magazine article, the national high school dropout rate currently exceeds 30 percent – we need to find a way to connect with students, to engage them and keep them in the classroom. Technology will be a critical component of this endeavor.

In this digital era, students are connected as individuals through cell phones, the internet and many participate in large virtual on social networking sites. Technology is so integrated in their lives that, according to a recent factoid, nine out of ten students no longer wear wristwatches as timepieces because they can now access the time through a plethora of other technological devices close at hand. Content is available online, critical analysis and application of content has become more important than content itself as the body of published work available online doubles seemingly overnight. If students check in online but checkout at school-, why are we not doing a better job at using these tools to motivate students in rigorous learning experiences?

Intel is investing in helping teachers become better at technology integration for learning. We offer free professional development to states and districts all over the country. We also have supported the development of technology standards for students, teachers and administrators in the US. Our most recent project is collaboration with Intel, Microsoft and Cisco on how to do a better job of assessment of 21st Century skills in students.

However, I fear that philanthropic efforts by Intel, Cisco, Microsoft, or Oracle will not have the systemic impact we seek until education leaders embrace the opportunity that technology presents in making our students more engaged, and more successful in school. If you need a reason for why that is important – check out a recent McKinsey study that said the United States’ GDP would have been 9 to 16 percent higher – that is, $1.3 to $2.3 trillion higher – in 2008 had U.S. high school graduates attained the average skills of their peers in Canada, Finland or South Korea. In our current economic situation, we can’t afford not to have an educational system where all kids succeed.

2 Responses to Helping Students Succeed: What Intel is Doing to Make Learning Engaging

  1. We can track the ideal learning process back to Plato -”Do not, my friend, keep children to their studies by compulsion, but by play”. We know the greatest level of learning retention comes with practice. The ideal role of teaching therefore needs to concentrate on bringing fun into learning that induces the practice element. The technological developments of the past 20 years in video games could be harnessed to achieve this objective with equal application in the African bush as Washington DC.

  2. Pedro says:

    Dear all,
    My name is Pedro and three weeks ago I started an event. We don’t have a lot of people yet but we are already part of United Against Racism printed calendar of events. More than an event it’s an idea: it consists in asking everyone who comes across this idea to invite someone on the basis of a difference. This can be a difference in gender, culture, age etc. The guest must do the same, so on an so forth. We therefore form chains of people bound by differences that can either meet online or offline on the 25th, depending on what they want to do with this idea. I am on Facebook, under ‘Chains of Difference’. Over the many postings in my Facebook page, I keep appealing to Intel to join us on the 25/04 and make its own use of the idea as well. This can be something as simple as setting the challenge for all the people who work at Intel to build chains within Intel, based on diference and diversity, and celebrate with us on the 25/04, online or offline. I believe this event can help promote education on inter-culturalism and social difference. I am therefore writing to Intel to ask for your help as far as educations and corporate social responsability go. Can you help?