Project RED (Revolutionizing Education), an alliance of technology education leaders from across the nation, released its findings on Oct. 20 after studying how technology is implemented in nearly 1,000 schools. DA spoke with the Project RED president and CEO of the Hayes Connection, Jeanne Hayes.
DA: Project RED is led by five education technology innovators and leaders from across the nation. What brought you together, and what is your overarching mission?
Hayes: We've spent our careers tracking education technology. There are three things we started with: how technology can save money, how technology helps learning, and whether schools that have a one-to-one student-to-computer ratio outperform schools with a lower student-to-computer ratio in terms of technology use and improving dropout rates and student achievement.
DA: A surprising finding from the report "The Technology Factor: Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost Effectiveness" is that without proper implementation, a one-to-one computing rollout is no more likely to improve student achievement than traditional tactics with computer labs. Why is implementation so critical to ensuring this success?
Hayes: It is better, so it's not fair to say it's no more likely to succeed, but essentially, yes, that is correct. A proper rollout involves knowing what works and what doesn't. So many respondents said teachers receive the technology when the children do. Teachers of an older generation aren't as connected as kids and need the technology first to be empowered. We want a student-centered learning process, but not a power shift.
DA: Some of the key implementation factors included integrating technology in intervention classes, monthly professional development, and having students use technology daily for student collaboration. What is the takeaway of these factors for district administrators?
Hayes: Time on task and frequency are critical. There also needs to be leadership overall. If teachers know this generation of kids are new and different and need to be taught that way, it will make a huge difference.
DA: Despite large investments in technology infrastructure, why do some schools fail to follow through with vital implementation factors?
Hayes: The reality is the inability to separate the urgent from the important. Administrators are very busy. If a school gets new computers, it's exciting and it's human nature to want to distribute them as soon as possible. It's about being proactive, however, rather than reactive.
DA: According to the study, 100 percent of properly implemented one-to-one schools reported improvement on paperwork reduction, 92 percent said disciplinary action decreased, 90 percent had an improvement on high-stakes test scores, and 89 percent reported a reduction in dropout rates. How do you explain these huge advantages?
Hayes: We believe that one-to-one computing can operate in schools as kids are used to operating in the rest of their lives. Many students feel they enter a technology-free zone inside the classrooms. It's a way to truly personalize learning.
DA: What is next for Project RED?
Hayes: We have a grand idea. We would need a lot of financial support for this, but we want to enter a partnership with 50 schools to deploy these implementation factors and measure those results. Our real goal is to transform education.