More than 200 people filled the center's old Presbyterian church sanctuary to hear community leaders talk about the impact of digital literacy on education, careers and essential life skills. Connecting for Good Chief Executive Officer Tom Esselman led a panel discussion with Dr. Bedell, City of Kansas City Communications Director Chris Hernandez, Kansas City Full Employment Council Executive Director Clyde McQueen and AARP Senior Community Service Employment Program Director Carole Malotte.
Dr. Bedell's main point at the breakfast was that KCPS is starting a wide and deep transition toward 21st-century teaching and learning across the school system in order to ensure that students are prepared to achieve their college and career goals.
"We're still in the chalkboard era, but that is going to change," Dr. Bedell said. "We are moving away from a brick-and-mortar mindset, and we will leverage digital technology on behalf of students."
Many KCPS families have an acute need for support and training when it comes to accessing and using digital tools like the internet, Dr. Bedell pointed out. More than half the school system's families don't have internet access.
KCPS began providing school-issued laptop computers for every student in 2014, but that was only the start of the solution. The next step is to make sure that teachers, support staff, students and parents know how to use those tools effectively.
KCPS also wants to ensure differentiation of curriculum and promote student-centered classrooms. Technology is one tool that KCPS will use to make that goal a reality.
"We have to be teaching and learning 24-7," he said. "That means shifting classes away from worksheets and handouts and toward the use of multiple digital devices and lessons that are structured around engaging students with a wide variety of tools."
Connecting for Good started in 2011 to help bridge the digital divide with wireless mesh networks, community technology centers, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life-skills classes.
To learn more about the technology available in KCPS to support students and parents, please visit the KCPS website.