As classrooms become increasingly technological, students must learn to master various devices and work in different forms of media. With a new initiative, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers aim to help young students become more technologically adept in their classrooms.

The Heinz Endowments, a philanthropic organization based in Pittsburgh, granted $593,000 for CMU researchers to team with local teachers and increase technology fluency workshops in their schools. The researchers will create a pilot program that the teachers will ultimately apply to their classes. The pilot program will focus on developing tools so that students can use technology and data to ask questions about their environment and articulate arguments.

Twelve teachers from eight schools are working with CMU on this project. The teachers represent first grade all the way through high school, and specialize in subject areas ranging from physics to physical education.

“These teachers are really entering the design space with us,” said Jessica Kaminsky, one of the three project managers on CMU’s Robotics Institute Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) team in a news post from the university’s website.

Kaminsky is working with her fellow CREATE project managers, Jessica Pachuta and Beatrice Dias, on this pilot program. The grant is meant to last for 14 months; the pilot program will be used in schools the following school year.

The CREATE Lab will provide the partnering schools with access to virtual reality tools as well as visualization software to analyze large datasets. CMU will consult with West Liberty University (WLU) throughout the project. WLU will lead professional development efforts and support the teachers as they determine how fluency can be incorporated into each of their classrooms.

“Our vision is that students will be using technology, multimedia and data as raw materials for supporting their decisions or expressing their creativity,” Pachuta said in the post. “While schools have concentrated on technical and data literacy, we want students to achieve fluency.”

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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.