And the CoSN Winners Are…
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Every year, the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), a nonprofit organization composed of school leaders dedicated to advancing the use of K–12 technology, recognizes outstanding efforts in education. Traditionally CoSN gives awards in three categories: the TEAM Award, the Withrow Award, and the Award for Excellence in Public Service.
This year, CoSN added the Lifetime Achievement Award to the honors. Winners were recognized in early March at CoSN’s annual networking conference in Washington, DC. Check out what you and your staff have in common with their successful strategies—so next year you can insert your name below.
The TEAM Award
This award recognizes a district team that has significantly impacted the role of technology in transforming learning.
Perquimans County, North Carolina, has virtually no industry and one of the lowest average incomes in the state. But these barriers only seem to motivate parents, administrators, and teachers of the county’s schools to acquire technology to overcome their isolation and poverty.
Through grants, donations, and state and federal funding, the district has secured a computer to student ratio of less than 1 to 3 and provides its schools the services of a technology facilitator, two technicians, and a district-level technology coordinator.
In 2003, Perquimans Central School, serving students in PreK–2, was selected as an IMPACT model school, funded by an Enhancing Education Through Technology competitive grant. The grant provided classrooms with digital and document cameras, interactive whiteboards, video projectors, current-generation computers, digital microphones, and computer speakers.
But administrators grew concerned that as these younger students moved into the upper grades, their experience with technology-rich instruction would be lost. As a result, the principals, technology director, superintendent, and assistant superintendent determined how to replicate the IMPACT model and place all of these 21st-century learning tools in every classroom in grades PreK–5.
Named after Frank Withrow, a longtime pioneer of K–12 educational technology, this award recognizes a leader in tech innovation.
Vijay Sonty, chief information officer for Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in Florida, is the instructional technology visionary for the sixth largest school district in the country. He is responsible for establishing and implementing the district’s technology plan while administering a department budget of $102 million.
In March 2005, Sonty received the Florida Commendation Medal Award for his services to the community. During the 2004-05 hurricane seasons, Sonty’s Conferencing Services Department supported the Florida National Guard, Broward Emergency Operations Center, and the state of Florida by securing services for emergency use and providing constant communication throughout the storms.
At BCPS, Sonty oversees the deployment of more than 80 projects, including business support systems, network infrastructure, teaching and learning technologies, curriculum and assessment, and staff development.
Award for Excellence in Public service
This award recognizes the outstanding work of an elected or appointed public official to promote the use of technology in K–12 education.
Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is best known in the education technology community for coauthoring the Snowe-Rockefeller-Exon-Kerrey Amendment to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which became the E-Rate program. Because of her championing of E-Rate, 93 percent of classrooms in our public schools are connected to the Internet, helping to give students equal access to information, regardless of their socioeconomic background. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Snowe is a lead sponsor of legislation to permanently exempt the universal service program and E-Rate from provisions of the Anti-Deficiency Act that prevent E-Rate funds from flowing quickly to applicants.
Lifetime achievement award
This award recognizes a CoSN member’s lifelong contribution to technology and education.
Long before anyone appreciated the role of computers as education tools, Seymour Papert understood the machines’ potential to enrich students’ learning experiences. In the ’60s, Papert coined the term constructionism to define the concept
of learning as active rather than as sterile or passive. His major works, such as Mindstorms, The Children’s Machine, and The Connected Family, explain how computers can assist constructionist learning.
Papert was instrumental in Maine’s one-to-one computer project, the first in the country on a state level. He is a cofounder, with Marvin Minsky, of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT and a founding faculty member of the MIT media lab. He resides in Maine, where he runs the Learning Barn, a laboratory to develop forward-thinking methods of learning.