summer connection

Summer Connection and Building a Culture of Innovation.

Posted by Andrew Gardner on

BrainPOP was thrilled to sponsor and attend Summer Connection 2012, a conference in Mooresville, North Carolina – home of the “Digital Conversion Initiative” – one of the nations first, and most successful, 1-to-1 laptop programs. This event illustrated the power and necessity of alignment to create educational change- incorporating the interests of students, teachers, administrators, state district officials and even “partners” including BrainPOP.

The 3 hour opening session immediately set the example. As soon as the 400 attendees (from 13 states and more than 50 districts) settled into their seats,  superintendent Mark Edwards brought everyone to their feet, to move, shake and welcome each other. He was quickly followed by students from various grade levels presenting their work- from an interactive presentation exploring of the origins of the Hoover Dam (see above), to a Google Sketchup project in which a partially blind student expressed his deep understanding of architectural design. Next came Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia, sharing his vision for what a 21st century education should be. Finally, an energetic group of principals, technology coaches and teachers took questions from the audience and told stories of great success, and humorous (in retrospect) failures. It’s clear that the hardworking folks in Moorseville are living the phrase, “it takes a village!”

Throughout the subsequent sessions over the next 2 days, which were thoughtfully geared toward district admin, school based admin, technology managers and teachers, we heard all the buzzwords- communication, collaboration, creation, personalized learning,  – but there was also a pervasive emphasis on respect, for everyone involved.  Not only is the district providing students, teachers and leadership access to technology, they are deploying it with appropriate guidance.  By the financial and demographic statistics, Mooresville is an “average” district. Surprisingly, they spends less per pupil than 80% of the schools in the state! However, all the stakeholders recognize the value of providing the right tools. They come together, make the best choices, and assure there is financial support to provide hardware, software and human support team to create a supportive culture and promote student success.

Though Summer Connection 2012 is coming to an end, your can learn more about the inspiring story of Moorseville’s “Digital Conversion” (and all the people that work hard to keep it successful) by visiting the Summer Connection website, or follow #connection12 on twitter.  If your school or district is considering going 1-to-1 we would highly recommend the conference for next summer, though they recommend starting the planning well in advance!

Do you have successful stories of a one to one digital device program? Share them, please! Just like a student learning to read and write, we’re always looking to hear about strategies that work!