Friday, September 20, 2013

Bringing Educators and Industry Together


I have come across two great ways to match industry talent with classroom needs that are very cool. The first is a brand new company call Nepris.com – they have an online engine to match very specific teaching needs with outstanding talent in industry. The video shows engineers from General Motors talking about pneumatics for a math class. A one-hour class done through the platform’s live video that fully engages all (but one) of the students in the video. The best part of this from the educational perspective is the teacher fits the industry experts into her lesson sequence. She is not just having an expert come in and talk about what they do – they are coming in and helping the students gain a deeper understanding of the content they need to master for the class. More to come on Nepris no doubt.

The second program I found fascinating this week is a program out of Fargo, ND called Teachers in Industry. This is so cool because it is being driven by the economic development council as a long term solution to workforce shortages. Their conclusion was that they needed to get K-12 STEM teachers into the workplace to see, first hand, the skills students need to succeed.

Here are my notes from a call with them on how they are doing it –
  • The program is housed with the economic development council
  • North Dakota State University built the curriculum for teachers 
  • John Deere Electronic - smart electronics in tractors - they were a huge partner in building this out as they see the need for STEM capable students. 
  • The solution was summer internships for teachers in local plants dependent on STEM 
  • They had to figure out how long should this internship be, where teachers should go and what should they do - - 1 math teacher first year, 4 teachers the next and 6 teacher this year. 
  • Teachers spend four weeks in the internship – in each week they spend 4 days in the work environment and 5th day the collaborate on what they have learned and how it can apply to their classrooms 
  • Teachers have said it is the best professional development they have ever had. 
  • Very easy time getting companies on board - even though they really won't see a pay off for quite some time they understand the long term implications of this program 
  • Harder time getting teachers interested in it - the length of time, summer is a challenge but they are getting more and more buy-in from schools 
  • Teachers earn CEU's for the program and teachers get paid $2,000 for the internship – the Regional Education Association pays half and the company pays half. 
  • Teachers use the engineering design process to create lessons they will use in the classroom. They build it, try it out in the first semester and then modify it based on input and metrics. 
Industries want the STEM problem solved and know they have the expertise to help get it done. With programs like Nepris and Teachers in Industry that truly match the needs with the expertise, we can see some tremendous gains. More to come…..