Dell brings hardware, partnerships to educator professional development

Dell hardware plus high-quality software plus a platform-agnostic back end spells robust, replicable professional development for educators.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

NYSCATE (the New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education, an ISTE afflliate) offers professional development workshops for teachers and educational leaders throughout New York. Recently, many of these workshops have focused on the appropriate use and modeling of technology for school and district leaders. In an effort to ensure that this training is about skills and principles rather than a particular technology, NYSCATE partnered with Dell and SkillsTutor to ensure that they could support multiple platforms and provide high-quality, outcomes-based education for K12 administrators.

So why is this exciting? It isn't as if it's uncommon for schools and districts to look to Dell for hardware. Or Apple, or HP, or whomever, for that matter. This story caught my eye, though, because it reinforces the message that Dell has been cultivating for a couple of years now with its Connected Classroom initiative. Dell has differentiated its educational offerings by focusing on high-value, end-to-end, customized solutions, rather than low-cost hardware.

Thus, when NYSCATE wanted to ensure that its programs were OS-agnostic, Dell was able to support its own Windows and Android hardware (the Inspiron Duo and Streak, respectively) as well as the iPads that had dominated training efforts to date. Working with SkillsTutor to deliver "prescriptive, personalized learning for school administrators" (as summarized by Dr. Amy Perry-DelCorvo, CEO/Executive Director, NYSCATE), the group was able to develop a model for professional development that they hope to be able to replicate nationwide.

Educators participating in NYSCATE professional development workshops this summer will learn how to easily integrate Dell tablets and HMH’s SkillsTutor content into instructional practices.

Both Dr. Perry-DelCorvo and Bob Moore, Director, Dell Global Education, were excited about the professional development model and hardware/software combinations, but were perhaps even more enthusiastic about what could happen on the back end. The analytics capabilities integrated into SkillsTutor, fed by front-end iOS, Android, and web applications mean that the solution isn't "just about hardware or just about software," Moore noted. Rather, educators will be able to use the hardware and software in the workshops to learn how to improve instruction and assessment more generally with technology.

To date, NYSCATE has conducted 92 such workshops, reaching 1200 administrators, primarily in New York City and Long Island. With support for Windows and Android via Dell's hardware, the group expects this number to increase significantly and will be expanding their offerings across the state. As the program grows, they expect to add considerable value via the online, digital professional learning communities they are creating.

Adam Hall, President of SkillsTutor, may actually have summarized the effort best:

“This partnership brings together major stakeholders in New York to ensure that proven, cutting edge technology reaches the hands of the state’s students. The vision and commitment is to transform learning into an anytime, anywhere proposition.”

That is the idea, right?

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