Source: Sherman Publications

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LO Project 21 committee goes online

October 05, 2011

By Joe St. Henry

Review Editor

Project 21 volunteers are talking the talk, so to speak.

The 50-60 active members of the committee charged with developing ways to help Lake Orion students acquire the skills needed for success in the 21st Century will soon be using online tools to facilitate problem solving, communication and collaboration amongst themselves.

This effort mirrors the group's vision of more students mixing technology and interpersonal skills to learn more effectively.

Committee member Greg Kacy, an IBM educational consultant and district parent, recently introduced an internet-based workspace "community" modified for Project 21 to Superintendent Marion Ginopolis, who was impressed.

"This online workspace model is what 21st Century learning is all about," she said, noting it will be introduced to the rest of the committee over the next week or so.

The online tool, which features resource links, a discussion forum, file storage, work templates/forms and similar tools, will be used to help the Project 21 committee accelerate its work.

"I think the pace of activity will pick up over the next couple of weeks, once the online community is up," Kacy said. "It will enable people to work and be engaged with each other, separate from our scheduled meetings."

Ginopolis wants to have a working plan in place with specific action items to implement by the end of this year. During its second meeting, held last month, the committee finalized the objectives of Project 21. Now, members are researching and developing specific ideas to implement, unrestricted by location or time to foster anywhere, anytime learning.

"We're investing a lot of time in this," Ginopolis said. "I'm looking for really substantive learning opportunities for our kids not just nice things to do. I want to see ideas that stretch and challenge our children and incorporate the skills needed for the 21st Century."

Next week, committee members will be submitting their best ideas and what thinking and cooperation skills will be needed to fulfill them.

Kacy expects the Project 21 team to produce some innovative approaches. "Folks are definitely engaged in the initiative," he said. "Everyone has the common good of our kids in mind. Once we put something together for people to react to I expect our recommendations to ring true with the community. It has great potential."

Township resident Jasen Witt, an assistant superintendent in the Troy School District, has three kids in Lake Orion schools. He likes the direction the committee is taking and stressed how important it will be for children to learn how to compete in a global society.

"There's certainly the technical aspect of being familiar with and using today's technology," Witt said. "But our kids also need the interpersonal skills, problem solving and creative capabilities to think outside of the box and work in a collaborative environment in the next century."

Community members interested in learning more about Project 21 should visit the Lake Orion Community Schools website.