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How Collaboration in Education Can Change the Game

Working with industry, leading education organizations can further opportunities for students.

by AT&T / October 9, 2019

Education organizations often provide free resources and programs to help students gain skills and connect educators. But when such organizations join forces with a private sector company, those efforts go even further.

AT&T has a long history of working with leading education organizations to enable better opportunities for students, such as:

State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA): SETDA is a not-for-profit that supports state education agency leaders. Each year at its annual conference, SETDA brings a group of students together to share stories about digital learning. After the conference, students tour Washington, D.C., and meet with policymakers on Capitol Hill. In 2018 and 2019, AT&T has underwritten the Student Voices Program.

“It’s a powerful opportunity for the students and policymakers to hear about digital learning in action,” says Christine Fox, deputy executive director, SETDA.

Collaboration with AT&T also helps SETDA develop and share tech-based skills projects for students and teachers.

“Being able to leverage technology and create innovative content is critical to getting these students up to speed from a skills perspective,” says Fox. “Working with industry partners is critical because it helps us understand what skills students need so we can prepare them for the workforce.”

Consortium for School Networking (CoSN): CoSN is a professional association for school system technology leaders. Two years ago, CoSN launched a digital equity initiative to help strengthen home internet access.

“Most homework now requires access to the internet, particularly in the upper grades,” says Irene Spero, newly retired chief strategy officer, CoSN. “But many children do not have home internet access. We feel this is the new civil rights issue of today — all students should have access to high-speed broadband for learning and research.”

CoSN has been working on solutions that piggyback on existing infrastructure, build meaningful community partnerships and create tools to help district leaders get started in achieving digital equity. AT&T was one of the first organizations to get involved and has developed products and services for economically disadvantaged families as a way to close the homework gap.

“It’s a perfect example of why collaboration with the private sector is important,” says Spero. “As a nonprofit, we could never do this on our own. The corporate community has a great deal to contribute to discussions about how technology can transform education. It’s about being involved, giving input and sharing resources.”

National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC): NCAC is a nonprofit that provides collaborative support and resources for existing and emerging career academies.

Career academies within schools have grown quickly, but have primarily spread in a grassroots fashion. NCAC, along with other organizations, developed a set of 10 standards to ensure such academies meet specific criteria and focus not only on content, but on soft skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

AT&T is one of many private sector businesses that partner with schools to help develop and deliver curriculum for these academies, and make workforce a primary theme. Private sector mentors also help students plan and prepare for the future with practicing mock interviews, writing effective resumes and dressing for success.

“It is key for businesses to engage with teachers to teach them what a true office environment or work environment looks like,” says Jay Steele, executive director, NCAC. “Unfortunately, states only update their curriculum in three-to-five-year cycles. Working with private sector companies is a way to keep curriculum and practices that are used in the classroom current, real and relevant.”

To inspire educators and the private sector to help prepare students for the future, download the guide: “Leading the Future for Students, for Educators, and in Technology – Transforming education today to build the workforce of tomorrow.” Click here to learn more.

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