As schools in the Gulf Coast struggle to rebuild now more than two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region, a new initiative is infusing technology into seven districts in Mississippi and in New Orleans’ Jefferson Parish.
EDC is a key research partner in this three-year, $41 million initiative by Cisco. The schools are being wired for Internet and cable and equipped with digital telephone and security systems. Classrooms are now being outfitted with laptop computers, projectors, and interactive whiteboards. The project also provides professional development to teachers and administrators, and includes parents and community members.
For the first two years of the project, EDC will provide ongoing research—including year-end surveys of teachers, administrators, students, and parents in each district, and in-depth case studies of select schools—to help district staff clarify program goals and use the new technology effectively. The research will give each district a broad view of how successfully the technology is being implemented in the schools.
“We don’t keep these reports in a drawer,” says EDC’s Harouna Ba. “We present our findings to every participating district as well as Cisco and make practical recommendations based on the results.”
Looking ahead, Ba anticipates challenges as the schools seek to fully integrate the technology and engage communities. “We need all the pieces working together to see long-term improvement in the districts,” he says. The project will conclude with a report that tracks the program’s effectiveness over time and makes recommendations for the future.
Originally published on July 25, 2008