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Program 'Reinvents' Education in State

March 30, 2000

Five years ago, long before “dot com” became a fixture in the American vocabulary, West Virginia initiated a revolutionary project to use the Internet to improve the quality of instruction in schools.  

The project, funded through a $2 million Reinventing Education grant from IBM, has enabled West Virginia educators to share innovative lesson plans, the latest teaching strategies, creative student project ideas and other valuable information with teachers throughout the state and around the world. In 1995, West Virginia was one of only 10 states receiving funding for this innovative project through a competitive grant process.  

“The Internet is a wonderful communications tool that we’re using to improve the quality of instruction in West Virginia,” said Donna Landin, coordinator of the IBM Reinventing Education program for the West Virginia Department of Education. “We’re using the Internet to enable teachers to share lesson plans that utilize the ‘best practices’ determined through stringent criteria and field tests.”  

According to Landin, over 200 detailed lesson plans for grades K-12 are currently on the Reinventing Education website, http://reinvent.k12.wv.us  

Landin said that parents, students and mentors in West Virginia may register on-line for access to the website, which includes instructional plans, team projects and teacher homepages. Persons outside of the state have access to the site as a “guest.”  

“Very few schools have the funding to purchase all of the instructional materials they need or want,” she explained. “However, Reinventing Education provides teachers with access to the best resources available in the state and the world at no cost to them or their schools. Each lesson is aligned with the West Virginia Goals and Objectives established by the Board of Education and the national standards in each subject area.”  

According to Landin, over 1,000 people in West Virginia -– most of them educators -– are currently registered to use the site.  

“This is a real world-wide project,” she said. “In November 1999 and March 2000, teams of educators from Ireland and Italy visited West Virginia schools and met with Department of Education staff to discuss technology initiatives and the implementation of Reinventing Education in classrooms. The Reinventing Education project is connecting educators from around the world. This is exciting for teachers and students, who enjoy sharing ideas with people from around the globe.”  

Landin said that persons who have registered at the website also have access to a communications database, which includes educators’ e mail addresses.  

“This project has made the world a lot smaller for educators,” she continued. “One of the complaints from teachers across the country is that they feel isolated. The Reinventing Education project not only has helped to alleviate that isolation, but it has also allowed teachers to share ideas about how students can be best instructed.”  

According to Landin, West Virginia is now recognized as a national leader in education technology, partly because of the success of its Reinventing Education project.  

“West Virginia has taken a statewide comprehensive approach to education technology that includes a strong teacher technology training component and access to computers and the Internet for both educators and students,” she said. “Today, West Virginia is viewed as a national leader in the use of education technology.”

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