Alan November, urged participants in the Global Stem Classroom® Symposium to embrace the transformative role of technology in education.
UPTON – The goal of transforming STEM education might seem like a lofty ideal, but the process of doing so was divided into achievable milestones during a Global STEM Classroom® Symposium held at Blackstone Valley Tech.
On May 8, educators from throughout New England gathered at Valley Tech’s Upton campus to hear from leading education and technology experts, and to share their own ideas regarding STEM education in the 21st century. The event, sponsored by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), was organized by the Global STEM Education Center and Valley Tech.
The event’s first keynote speaker, JD Chesloff, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, said that his organization recently asked state employers to grade the Commonwealth’s schools based on quality of education and workforce preparation. Although more than 50 percent of business and industry leaders gave schools high marks for providing quality education, less than 20 percent gave high marks for career readiness.
“Twenty years of education reform got us to a great place. We’re doing well on standardized tests, but employers aren’t seeing a stream of graduates capable of entering the workforce,” Chesloff said. “There needs to be practical education connecting students to the world of work, which is exactly what happens in this school every day.”
The symposium was headlined by world-renowned leader in technology education and international bestselling author Alan November. The founder and senior partner of November Learning shared his belief that to succeed in the 21st century, educators must make the best use of students’ innate passion for real-world problem solving.
“Authentic work that develops passion, teamwork, and global connectivity can and should be built into everything we teach,” November said. “Our imagination is our only limit.”
The symposium also highlighted Blackstone Valley Tech’s success in piloting the Global STEM Classroom® program. Working closely with Global STEM Education Center founder Larisa Schelkin, Valley Tech developed a project in which its Electrical, Culinary Arts, and Plumbing students partnered with students in Arkhangelsk, Russia on a collaborative study of the International Space Station. Plans are underway to expand the Global STEM Classroom® program within Valley Tech, and Superintendent-Director Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick hopes that the initiative will find its way into more schools.
“We are proud to serve as a launching pad for the Global STEM Classroom® program and its proven ability to meet student and employer demand for relevant education,” Fitzpatrick said. “The program is certainly special, which is all the more reason to make it commonplace in schools across the Commonwealth and country.”