EAST Initiative is Subject of NETP Study

   

EAST Initiative is Subject of NETP Study
8/12/2013 2:27:38 PM

Through the National Department of Education’s Evaluating State Educational Technology Programs grant. The department will partner with Metis Associates, and the EAST Initiative to conduct the study of the EAST programs in schools nationwide.

The Arkansas Department of Education has been awarded a $1.8 million federal grant to oversee a three-year evaluation of the EAST Initiative, an innovative national education program that started in Arkansas in 1996, through the National Department of Education’s Evaluating State Educational Technology Programs grant. The department will partner with Metis Associates, a New York-based research and consulting firm, and the EAST Initiative to conduct the study of the more than 120 EAST programs in Arkansas Schools. There are over 200 EAST programs in schools nationwide including California, Illinois, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii. Of the 34 eligible grant submissions received by the US Department of Education, the evaluation of EAST was one of only ten funded.

Melanie Bradford, unit leader for Technology Resources and Planning at the Arkansas Department of Education, will serve as Project Director of the evaluation process. “We are very pleased that the National Department funded this application. The process was very competitive. We believe this will allow us to scientifically validate what we already believe to be true, that the EAST model provides a significant learning opportunity for students in Arkansas and the nation,” Bradford said.

Matt Dozier, the National Director of EAST, agrees, “This opportunity to scientifically study the EAST model will produce results that can be used to further enhance the ability of EAST to provide a powerful learning experience for the EAST students. Though EAST is now a national program, its roots in Arkansas are the deepest and most developed and we can use this study as a guide for further expansion of the initiative.”

EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) is a performance-based learning environment utilizing project-based service learning, integrated with advanced technological applications in an interdisciplinary laboratory environment where the intellectual and problem-solving growth of students is the focus. In 1995, Tim Stephenson developed EAST to engage students in learning while using technology to foster critical thinking skills and teamwork abilities.

The EAST model includes a multifaceted interdisciplinary service learning curriculum integrated with advanced technical applications from the following disciplines: Architecture, Animation and Visualization, Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), Database Development, 3D Design Engineering, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Networking, System Administration, Programming, Desktop Publishing, Digital Film Making, and Web Development. The teaching of these applications is secondary to a focus on allowing students to develop as learners in an integrated setting that fosters such diverse skills as teaming, responsibility, accountability, and personal initiative. While students concentrate on projects, their teacher focuses on developing students’ intellectual capacities through the application of traditional curricular objectives. Student success is measured by the degree of growth the students have demonstrated in mastering and applying basic skills and concepts, as well as progress made toward the development of skills that the state’s standardized tests indicate so many students are lacking, such as creative and critical thinking skills.

The Arkansas Department of Education has been instrumental in the growth of EAST from a pilot school to a statewide initiative and consulted in the creation of the educational non-profit EAST Initiative that was formed in December of 2001.

For more information on this study, contact Melanie Bradford at (501) 371-5005, fax (501) 371-5010, or e-mail: mbradford@arkedu.k12.ar.us.

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