One of the biggest issues that schools face when trying to adopt new technology in their classrooms is the price tag. Even just upgrading classroom computers can be expensive, so investing in an iPad laboratory or teleconferencing system can seem totally out of reach. But some foundations are handing out millions of dollars to schools and other nonprofits to help them get past the financial roadblock and push through new edtech projects.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has awarded about $23 million to nonprofits trying to get blended learning off the ground. Each grant is different and ranges from the hundreds of thousands all the way up to $10 million. What would your school district do with that kind of cash? Well, for starters, let's talk about what two organizations are doing with their money.
$10 million for Michigan schools
The Michigan Education Excellence Foundation was given $10 million to help more than 10,000 students in the state's lowest 5 percent achieving schools. The program relies on a student-centered learning system that tracks progress in real time. Classroom management tools allow teachers to adjust lesson plans or stage interventions.
The program uses a blend of traditional and digital learning, so the program has used the money to buy laptops, tablets and other tech resources for schools. The result? Achievement scores are already improving in amazing ways: At the beginning of 2013, 40 percent of students in 9th and 10th grade achieved one or more year's worth of improvement in reading. They're basically doubling the amount these kids are learning each year!
$4 million for online learning
Khan Academy won $4 million to broaden the reach of its free online learning program. It provides self-directed online lessons in more than 30 subject matters. So far, more than 80 million people have used the site, and it's been incorporated into more than 20,000 classrooms.
So what, you ask? Well, Khan was used in a pilot program in Los Altos, California, where it resulted in student math scores rising from 23 percent to 41 percent. Pretty soon, Khan wants its site to be accessible to all teachers, students and learners! That means you, me and any school can explore new ways of learning – and it won't cost a dime.
The foundation explained that they see edtech programs like these as critical to improving achievement and helping schools, parents and teachers educate students. If you have a great idea or a program that you want to introduce in your school, consider looking for seed money or other foundations like this one.
What kinds of programs would you want to see funded in your schools? Please share your comments below!