In my 25 years as an elementary school teacher, supporting teacher professional learning and now leading the Education Strategy team at Dell Technologies, my favorite time of the year has always been ‘back to school’. It’s the prospect of a fresh start, a full year of chances to learn and new opportunities to impact learners.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to help our schools, students and teachers adjust to the unfamiliar realities of digital learning and remain connected in school districts from New York City to Albuquerque to Toronto and everywhere in between. This year, that work will continue, and it’s exciting. The opportunity to make an impact on young people’s lives through education is what keeps me engaged with school systems. As we prepare for the continued progression, let’s take a moment to reflect on what will ensure a successful year.
It might come as a shock to you, but Dell has been leading learner-centered professional learning for over 18 years and we have worked with thousands of school systems in North America. The need for this service will be even more important as the models of learning shift to more hybrid and blended. To that end, our education strategists and partners recognize first-hand how essential professional learning is as teachers continue to adjust to diverse learning environments.
That’s why we’ve continued to prioritize professional learning to equip our educators with the right tools and resources needed to transform teaching and learning. To meet this ongoing and pressing need, Dell has invested more than five million U.S. dollars over the last three years in professional learning for teachers– investments that ensured our students continued learning and will remain a priority in the years ahead.
In navigating the global technological shift, one thing has become clear: security and data privacy have emerged as significant challenges in the K-12 world. Our students’ and educators’ data and safety must be at the forefront of all of our conversations. Just this year, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) released a new K-12 school security guide that helps schools create safe and secure learning environments without burdening teachers and administrators. Dell’s security solutions, including content filters, end-user management and cyberattack prevention/monitoring tools, build on that important work. It takes balancing access management and threat protection to ensure student and faculty safety and success.
Data privacy and security are important, but digital literacy will also be a defining skill and topic for the foreseeable future. As a technology company, we’re committed to driving towards the goal of all individuals and communities having the technical capacity needed to fully participate in society. That’s why we’ve partnered with ISTE to develop resources needed to advance digital literacy skills within communities.
Digital Skills for a Global Society provides resources to guide learners, educators and caregivers in getting the skills they need by taking a 30-minute customized questionnaire to evaluate their skills. After completing the questionnaire, resources are provided to guide their digital journey. Educators can dive deeper by registering for the Digital Literacy in the Classroom Course. The free five-hour online course will guide educators as they strengthen their digital literacy skills while also engaging in strategies for implementing digital literacy skills across the curriculum. These resources and many more are free to the education community to support this very important topic.
We remain committed to helping education systems as they transform teaching and learning. That is why Dell continues to invest in education strategists to support school systems in their transformation journey. For example, Berkeley County Schools, in West Virginia, collaborated with our Senior Education Strategist, Dr. Tara Nattrass, to ensure that the district was preparing both its educators and students for the shift to a digital future. “Dr. Nattrass’ collaborative, unassuming approach allowed us to redefine ourselves through developing a new mission, vision and set of core beliefs. She educated, listened and internalized what was said by our team and guided us to a final, lasting product,” said Robyn Lopez, Director of Assessment and Accountability. As our education system continues to evolve, it’s our strong partnerships––similar to our relationship with Berkeley County Schools––that allow us to collectively meet education needs.
As our teachers and students return for another school year, we must build upon the progress we’ve made, lessons we have learned, and the emerging research to continue making new strides in improving the overall educational experience. We’ve begun to adapt and redefine the classroom and now it’s time to enable learning to happen anywhere, anytime.