ORT Russia schools win HP innovation grants


10 June 2009 ORT Russia schools win HP innovation grants Three ORT schools in Russia have each won a substantial grant from technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) which will help them to improve their students achievements through the innovative use of technology. The ORT high schools in Moscow, St Petersburg and Samara represent one-third of the schools which have received this years HP Innovation in Education Grant awards in Russia out of a total of 50 winners in the whole of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The ORT network is disproportionately well represented among the winners a sign of our commitment to excellence and innovation in practical education, a commitment which has seen ORT become a strategic partner with HP in a wide range of social and educational projects, said Dr Sergey Gorinskiy, ORT Russias Deputy Director for Development and International Cooperation. Although five ORT institutions applied for this grant we consider the outcome 100 per cent successful because two were ruled out by virtue of their already having received HP grants in recent months. The winning schools will each receive a package comprising high-tech equipment, cash and a seat at next years HP Innovation in Education Conference in San Francisco worth approximately $100,000. The equipment includes 22 Tablet PCs, convertible laptops which include a digital pen for drawing directly on the screen. They are particularly suited to the teaching and learning of diagrammatic subjects such as mathematics, science and engineering. These grants will have a huge impact on the schools, Dr Gorinskiy said. In the current economic climate it is difficult to find money to upgrade equipment so this will be a big help. But another very important benefit is that the recipient schools are now part of HPs regional cooperative network, a privileged club of some of the best educational establishments in Europe and the Former Soviet Union. The grants were awarded to those secondary schools which were deemed by HP to have submitted proposals for the most innovative teaching and learning initiative. The proposals had to address four critical areas of innovation: Leadership capacity creating a network of school administrators and key teachers who implement innovative approaches to curriculum, instruction and the use of technology to enhance mathematics and science learning. Digital learning environments using technology to fundamentally redesign the learning experience to increase student engagement and academic success.Students design and research experience making mathematics and science real and relevant by involving students in design and research challenges that address real social needs. High-tech career awareness engaging administrators, teachers and students in ways that increase awareness and interest in high-tech college degree programmes and careers. The ORT schools award-winning proposals feature a mind boggling array of scientific and technical opportunities for high school and mature students many of them from underprivileged backgrounds as well as for staff. The ORT de Gunzburg School in St Petersburg, for example, plans to introduce 95 students to the basics of atomic and molecular literacy and application in cutting-edge sciences like biotechnology and nanotechnology. Our innovation is to make computer-based molecular simulations a routine part of science instruction, said Deputy Principal Grigory Vodopyan. We will conceptually integrate the learning of fundamental concepts in physics, chemistry and biology by using advanced dynamic modelling, mobile computing platforms and collaborative research. The project would not only enhance students research skills, it would also encourage them to pursue careers in advanced science and engineering, Mr Vodopyan continued, adding that the lessons learned from its implementation would be shared with 50 schools in St Petersburg and the 17 schools in the World ORT network in the CIS and Baltic States. The Moscow school plans to create a School Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) to fundamentally redesign the learning experiences of students, teachers and parents. The new technical solutions granted by Hewlett Packard will be used to bring innovations in teaching and learning by involving some 350 students two-thirds of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds in design, research and collaborative learning in a new IT-enriched environment, said Principal Marina Moiseeva. We also plan to implement such new technology as mind mapping, which it completely new for Russian educators and students. In addition, the HP grant will ease students access to experts in universities and business by enhancing the virtual learning environment and on-line conferencing. The mobile technology supplied by HP will be the foundation for the creation of an on-line community of professionals, students and teachers whose focus is high tech and ICT, Dr Moiseeva said. And in Samara, some 1,600 students are due to benefit from the development of a High Tech Educational Centre at the ORT school. Alexander Fradkov, Director of the ORT Technology Centre at the school, said that students would be taught to use technology to enhance maths, science, computer science and engineering courses and, together with administrators and teachers, would increase their awareness of and interest in high-tech college degree programmes and careers. Owen Kemp, HP Vice President and Managing Director of HP Russia, wrote to each of the schools congratulating them on their win. Your educational institution is part of an elite cohort dedicated to enhancing programmes in engineering, computer science, information systems and information technology, the innovations that are possible at the intersection of teaching, learning and technology, Mr Kemp wrote. We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with you and your institution as you implement your project and develop your institutions technology capacity for the benefit of your students. Thank you for your commitment to education and for seeking new ways to transform the learning environment in ways that positively affect student achievement. World ORTs collaboration with HP began in 2001 with the Digital Village programme in Dikhatole, near Johannesburg. In 2004, HP and ORT again joined forces to open Digital Community Centres in Slavutych, Ukraine and Tula, Russia, and within a year the Micro Enterprise Acceleration Centre was opened in Samara. In 2007, HP initiated Graduate Entrepreneurship Training through IT (GET-IT) that seeds entrepreneurial energy and develops business and IT skills in young people and recent graduates. ORT Russia has established six GET-IT in Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Tula, Tambov, Moscow and St Petersburg and 10 more are due to open this year in Russia and Ukraine.