FWSU chosen as learning studio site

A Georgia student's computer science project is pictured earlier this year in the school's makerspace. FWSU was recently selected to serve as a learning studio research hub. (File photo by Abby Ledoux)

A Georgia student’s computer science project is pictured earlier this year in the school’s makerspace. FWSU was recently selected to serve as a learning studio research hub. (File photo by Abby Ledoux)

Franklin West Supervisory Union announced last week it was selected by non-profit Digital Promise to serve as a learning studio research hub, one of 60 locations chosen around the world based on commitment to teaching excellence and educational innovation.

Part of HP and Microsoft’s “Reinvent the Classroom” initiative, the international program is “designed to enable instructional innovation and education technology solutions to transform teaching and learning for schools around the world,” a Nov. 1 FWSU press release said.

The advanced Learning Studio comes equipped with 3D printers, software and educator guides, allowing students to take on projects that incorporate design thinking, three-dimensional design and social entrepreneurship.

“[This initiative] matches perfectly with our action plan targets, our focus on collaborating with students across the world and our focus on creativity and education,” FWSU Superintendent Ned Kirsch said in a statement.

The action plan Kirsch referred to is FWSU’s “bold vision for ensuring every student is well-prepared to thrive in the global economy and the digital age,” the press release said. FWSU’s three member districts – Georgia, Fairfax and Fletcher – encourage students to “use digital tools to solve real world problems.”

FWSU was accepted into a national coalition of innovative school districts last year, one of 22 “forward-thinking” school systems nationwide – and the only New England applicant – selected to join the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools.

Authorized by Congress in 2008, Digital Promise was originally established as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

In 2011, President Barack Obama formally launched Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit, to “accelerate innovation in education through technology and research,” its website says.

The global arm of the non-profit will direct the project and support teachers and students involved in it, FWSU’s press release said.

“These learning studios blend the power of educational technologies and instructional methods to truly revolutionize education by creating adaptive, immersive learning environments that energize teacher and student alike,” said Gus Schmedlen, HP Inc. vice president of education, printing and personal systems.

“Digital Promise has allowed students to use the design process in a new and innovative way,” Fletcher fifth-grade teacher Cassie Underwood added. “They begin with an idea, design it using 3D software, print it on the 3D printer and test it before redesigning and improving it. The excitement that I have seen in my students as they are creating their projects is unique because of the possibilities the technology has opened up.”

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