Powering Inquiry-based Learning

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Two female students working on laptopWe all know technology has changed how and where we work.  Yesterday, I saw a wonderful example of how technology can radically enable and expand a classroom.  I attended the launch of the Center of Excellence for Learning at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia, which will showcase best practices in integrating technology in the classroom and serve as a model for schools looking to deploy the latest technical innovations.

SLA is a public magnet high school founded by the Franklin Institute in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia. Students at SLA learn in a project-based environment where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection are emphasized in all classes.

What do the students say about learning in this way?

“Here, questions are valued, they start every conversation; it’s OK to ask why, again and again.”

  • “Working with my hands and with others, I learn better.”
  • “We are encouraged to make mistakes, it’s not about getting the right answer”

Project-based, inquiry-driven learning was possible before, but it takes off when you add technology.  Technology enables you to find, learn, connect, and collaborate with efficiency, and it expands, enriches, and amplifies learning.

Through a Youth Learning  grant, each member of three successive freshman classes will receive a Dell Chromebook 11 to support a 24/7 learning environment. The Chromebook will provide these students access to all of their apps and content at home or school. The web-based console enables teachers and IT administrators to manage and update apps easily, so that students are able to learn in a personalized, secure environment.

Student with laptop

In addition, the grant will support the SLA’s  Center of Excellence for  Learning  in its mission to act as both a model and a resource for the education community, providing best-practice sharing for teaching and learning, informative whitepapers, and case studies.

The expertise and support of Jon Phillips, Director, Dell Worldwide Education and his team were clearly critical to making this program possible. I believe their partnership with the amazing faculty at SLA will not only bring inspired learning to these students in Philly, but will also serve to energize a movement that will enhance learning for all.

Now that’s the power to do more.

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About the Author: Deb Bauer

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