"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"- Nelson Mandela
The overall mission of the program is to integrate assistive technology into classrooms by getting teaching and learning tools into the hands of both students and teachers via a system of student mentors, student note-takers, and teacher training
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The Smartxt Universal Learning Program is a collaboration of instructors, students, and learning specialists throughout the California Community Colleges, with Laney College in Oakland California as the flagship institution. The mission of the program is to integrate assistive technology tools into the general curriculum through the use of student mentors.
The student mentors, many who started out requiring support, now teach their peers and faculty about assistive technology and are empowered with newly found skills and knowledge. Eager to share with others, not just those with learning differences, they know first-hand what a difference multi-sensory tools can make to all students. These tools enable students to hear textbooks and teachers’ annotated study strategies, essentially creating “A Teacher within the Text”. In addition, they allow students to see and hear instructors’ methods for solving math equations and to review class lectures on demand.
As a Universal Learning program, this multisensory support is available to the entire class, enabling instructors to serve all their students. The ability to use technology to support students and help teachers is wonderful, and experiencing students’ excitement in passing on their knowledge and new skills to others is truly exciting!
Smartpen Math Pilot Year End Report July 2012
At a time when our nation is working to rebuild the economy, higher education has never been a more crucial component of our society. The Public Policy Institute of California predicts that by 2025, 41 percent of U.S. jobs will require a bachelor’s degree. California’s ability to help refuel a competitive economy will depend on its educators’ capacity to unlock student limitations and enrich student talent, knowledge, and interests.
The diversity of the California Community College system enriches the learning experiences of students and ultimately strengthens the fabric of California’s communities. However, schools are failing to respond to the changing needs and realities of their community college’s student body. 70 percent of first-year community college students are in need of remedial education in English or math to be prepared for college-level courses. Consequently, one-half of these first-time students will not persist to the second year. Although most community college students intend to complete college, many never do.
In order for California to produce the number of college graduates needed to rebuild an innovative and competitive economy for California, college administers, instructors, and students must work together to design a more flexible approach to learning; one that embraces the unique needs and challenges of a diverse student body. Furthermore, instructors cannot expect to use traditional teaching tactics on a population as altered as that of California.
MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Why should you care?
Are your students late and unprepared
Do they seem disengaged
Are you burn’t out, dissatisfied…
Our current system is clearly limited. A wise and gifted instructor recently stated,“You mean, what I’ve done for the past 30 years doesn’t work anymore"? If we really want to educate our students it’s on us, as educators, to examine this current population and respond to their needs.
In my own teaching of over 20 years I’ve come to see that all students want to learn. For a number of instructors this is a challenge to hear. "Many of my students don’t care and I’m tired of it. They don’t come to class, they don’t get their work done. It’s not my job to handhold.”
What is our job? From my understanding, we are preparing students to be the educated, skilled workforce for our current and upcoming society. What are those skills? As much as we’d like to believe that our job is teaching Biology or French or Math or whatever, it’s not. Our deeper job is to teach critical thinking and study skills that enable students to learn those subjects. And, to add more fuel to the fire, we need to teach those skills in relevant platforms to our current population.
The beautiful part of this whole picture is, once the light bulb goes on for these students we, as instructors, get energized.
We are an institution for learning, as a community we have the skills to turn on the light bulbs, we just have to be committed to finding the switches, especially when they reside outside our comfort zones.