Q: What is your role as the education strategist at Intel?
Lento: I spend most of my time working with jurisdictions—schools, districts, or counties—using a blueprint approach toward one-to-one computing. We at the Intel Corporation Education Group partner with districts in the change management process. I help groups to think about one-to-one systemically and make sure they maximize its potential. My teams have members with different expertise.
I have people that have really deep expertise in the nature of technology—the motherboards, the chipsets, the deep details—and some that specialize in our relationships with content providers, working to optimize the learning platform content. We often hear, "Oh, we gotta get technology," but it's not necessarily thought through.
What is the blueprint approach that you referred to?
Lento: Intel has a K12 computing blueprint. We work with stakeholders on each specific sector that is crucial to implementing a successful one-to-one program. It's a model of what you need to think about to do this well. All sectors impact each other in every way. For instance, professional development has a relationship with digital content. We use bidirectional arrows to illustrate these relationships in our visual model. Moving into a successful one-to-one model is a complex change process.
When was the blueprint launched?
Lento: We launched the blueprint approximately five years ago, but it's evolved since then. For example, the world of content has changed dramatically. The world of assessment is changing right now. The technology itself has changed. Five years ago, we weren't talking about dynamic virtual clients, because that technology wasn't really well vetted, but now it is. That particular technology is a fantastic solution for schools because it gives them security, control and manageability that didn't previously exist.
Education funding is another example. Funding streams are changing. We don't yet know what's going to happen with ESEA reauthorization, for example. The blueprint is a living thing that evolves as the context in which it exists evolves.
Why do you offer this free service when Intel does not sell a specific one-to-one product or program?
Lento: Intel architecture is an ingredient in Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo and others. So when we're working with a district, we have nothing to sell them. Our goal is to work as a partner with a district to make sure they're successful, whomever they end up going with. We've seen too many times the negative story of "This district invested all this money in technology and it failed." But the newspapers don't write about the many successful programs. We want to make sure that, to the greatest extent possible, those negative stories aren't available.
By the way, when we see those negative stories, if you think about the blueprint, we often could have predicted them because we know it's a best practice to work with your teachers a year prior to this innovation. But many districts just decided to blow off that best practice.
Do you feel school districts are moving forward and integrating creative content into the technology they have? Are things improving in that regard?
Lento: Certainly things are getting better, but there's a huge continuum here. I see schools that are just absolutely doing phenomenally innovative work, and they're taking advantage of the computing power at these children's fingertips. At the same time, you can go into schools where all they did was replace pencils with devices. So the spectrum is huge. When administrators and teachers that aren't maximizing the potential go and visit another district that is, they get it. So I'm extremely optimistic.
What are examples of inspiring districts from your perspective?
Lento: There are so many inspiring models out there, and we probably don't talk enough about them, really. Instead we're so focused on the failure or the gap. At our annual Visionary Conference in Washington, D.C. in April, we featured six schools that presented the really innovative creative work they're doing: Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, Ill., the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, Tech Valley High School in Rensselaer, N.Y., Auburn City Schools in Alabama, P.S. 188, The Island School in New York City, Florida Virtual School and Ocoee Middle School in Florida.
One of the things we try to do is bring forward some of these brilliant schools so they can share what they're doing. And then the folks in the audience, such as members of the NSF, the DOE, the think tanks, ISTE and CoSN can actually influence a larger circle of folks.
So the country faces a big education challenge, and we want to say, "There are wonderful examples of high-functioning schools across the country, and if more schools transformed using the best practices being shared, then it could change the face of education in the United States."