In an unprecedented partnership, Interactive Incorporated, of Texas, recently announced it will provide state-of-the-art computer technology to any Baltimore City public School interested in increasing its parental involvement through the Parent Academy Telecommunication Network(PATN).
The decision was reached after the tremendous success of the PATN in six Baltimore City Schools in the 1995 school year, the Texas based company realized the great impact its technology has on school aged children, teachers, and parents. This partnership represents what can be accomplished when corporate America and public education combine their resources.
Interactive, formed in 1989, by Definition LTD, to better reflect the goals of the company. The name was selected to symbolize the interactive programming under development and delivered via a ‘high definition’ communication system of fiber optics and satellite. The company is committed to becoming a defining influence in the emerging interactive communications industry and to achieving a high level of customer service and product quality.
The PATN interactive computer system is operational in six Baltimore City Public Schools with great success. Since the announcement to supply the hardware to any school who wants to benefit from the network, several principals have expressed an interest in having the network in their school. Developing the skills and horizons of parents as well as their respect for education has proved to be well worth the investment.
"It’s time to empower our communities," said Mrs. Geraldine Smallwood of Cherry Hill Elementary School. "I have found the network to be a valuable resource for the students, teachers and parents. Let every school embrace the 21st century just like we have."
The full extent of the influence of technology in education will never be known. We can only define this influence in the present, but it tendrils extend far into the future. It is sufficient to know that the ramifications are immense.
Technology is a tool applicable to all professions. Like the hammer to the carpenter, without technology the twenty-first century citizen will be unable to perform simple tasks, much less become truly creative. A knowledge of technology has become a necessity on all subjects, and in the future will become the fourth "r" added to the well known "reading, writing and arithmetic".
Education must teach computer literacy in applications packages, such as work processors and spreadsheets, which will be needed to write a letter or fill out a form. Programming will not be important to the mainstream by will become an occupation in itself. Beyond applications packages, a knowledge of hardware functions will lead to a more effective use of software. Other more complex applications will be required for specific jobs, such as contact managers in marketing and sales.
The Internet is becoming important as an immense resource of online information. The increased effectiveness of telephone communications will provide faster and faster access to both graphics, text, animations, and video which will enhance any educational experience for students of all ages. The world wide resources will continue to grow and develop into an indispensable resource which will integrate television, computers, and communications into a single resource.
It is certain that education must provide the tools for parents to move effectively into the workforce. The Parent Academy Telecommunications Network exposes students, parents, and teachers to the leading edge of the convergence of technologies. It is this exposure to technology that will help communities to adequately envision and prepare for the modern world.
In 1989, the nation’s Governors and the President reached agreement at an education summit convened in Charlottesville, Virginia, that unless the nation established clear education goals and all citizens worked cooperatively to achieve them, the United States would be woefully unprepared to face the technological, scientific, and economic challenges of the 21st Century. The Goals 2000: Educate America Act consists of eight goals Congress seeks to have accomplished by the year 2000.
That same year, Academy Concepts, Inc., established the Parent Academy Program in Baltimore, Maryland. Its systematic approach to parental involvement in public education consist of 18 non-instructional activities volunteers perform in order to graduate from the program.
Over thirty Baltimore City public schools have benefited from this innovative system, and nearly three thousand volunteers have graduated from the Parent Academy. Educators believe that Parent Academy meets, and in some areas, exceeds the Educate America Act, goal eight. It clearly states "every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional and academic growth of children."
"Since Parent Academy introduced its structured parental involvement program in Cherry Hill Elementary School, parental involvement has had many success," explains principal Geraldine Smallwood.
One of those successes is the Parent Academy Telecommunication Network implemented in Cherry Hill Elementary, Patapsco Elementary, Arundel Elementary , Robert W. Coleman Elementary and George G. Kelson Elementary Schools.
Cherry Hill Elementary was one of the first pilot schools. This venture has, without a doubt, been worth it's weight in gold. Not only do the parents receive computer training through this innovative program, but also have the capability of interacting with other pilot schools as well as long distance learning. Some of the benefits of this network system are:
"I am proud (that)my parents are responsible for training staff and administrators on the PATN. This responsibility has raised the self-esteem of parents involved. Parental involvement has increased at my school as a result of the program and the PATN."
Adult day care is the major alternative to institutionalization and nursing home care. It cuts the family's cost by about ½. The overriding objective is to provide high quality day care to adults ranging from the age of 55 years or older, depending on the individual client's needs. Adult day care provides a range of therapeutic transportation, and personal care services during the day to adults with physical and psychological impairments. Adult day care allows our guests, most of whom are elderly, to remain in their own homes under continued care of their families and caregivers. So a word to the wise to today’s younger generation….prepare for your future now..so you won’t be a burden to your family later.
I work with Dr. Alfred Giovetti, and my responsibilities include the installation, maintenance and repair of the Parent Academy Network Interactive computer system. I also instruct Volunteer Parents on basic operations and fundamentals of using computers and educational software programming.
The computers used by the Parent Academy Network employ the latest innovations in teleconferencing technology. With the advent of these systems, Parents, Educators and even students are able to communicate via a video/audio connection that allows them to interchange ideas and information concerning their schools and communities in a real-time mode.
The impact that these computer systems have on the Parents and Educators is remarkable. Since the systems have been installed at the various sites, Parental involvement and interaction with the computer has grown extensively. The participating schools have seen dramatic increases in Parents signing up to use the computer and requesting training workshops. The Parents now look to the PC network as an aid to furthering their own education and potential employment with marketable computer skills.
Arundel Elementary School #164, went on-line with the Parent Academy Telecommunications Network computer system Monday, December 18, 1995. Even as the system was being setup, Ms. Steele, school liaison, and Ms. Toni Robinson, Educator Facilitator, had a group of Parents ready to take advantage of the opportunities that the system offers.
According to Ms. Robinson, the computer will have the following impact on the Parents and Educators at School #164: "The use of the computers at Arundel Elementary, through the Parent Academy Program , will allow parent to benefit from their experiences with it. By gaining basic knowledge through interaction and training, many of us will become more computer literate. We are also able to participate with other schools using the teleconfrencing features, and it is a plus to be able to interact with other schools over this network. Parents using this system will gain a greater of self-appreciation and esteem, as they learn and share what they have learned with others."