In the wake of Katrina, several major corporations made major investments in rebuilding the New Orleans schools. Under John Chamber’s leadership, Cisco has poured an enormous amount of money into New Orleans schools to ensure every child has access to the technology of the 21st century classroom.
We toured several schools in Jefferson Parish that have incredible levels of classroom technology. Cisco funded 16 schools and the school District equipped the remainder at a total cost of $32 million. In addition, six new jobs have been created at the District level – Technology Integration Specialists – to aid the teachers in integrating all the technology into their teaching.
Each classroom has a touch sensitive, smart-board that cost about $10,000 and an Active Vote system – handheld voting devices. The teachers all have laptops for controlling the technology and there is a high speed Internet connection for accessing lessons and other content from the web. On the school-based server is a wide variety of software the teachers may retrieve through the school-wide wireless LAN. The teachers needed to go through a fairly rigorous training program and Cisco loaned several employees full-time to the District for training and consulting.
In one third grade class we saw a demo of how all of this technology and training comes together to create a 21st century learning experience for the children.