Gainesville City School System

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D2D Collaboration Partners

About Direct to Discovery

Direct To Discovery (D2D), is an eCommunity teaching and learning environment founded on a strong mobile technology infrastructure and boldly committed to improving student achievement and growth for both regular and high needs students.

Enter any classroom where effective teaching and learning is taking place and no one has to tell you -- you can feel it. The students are engaged and focused on the topic at hand. The teacher is in-the-zone, serving as advisor, collaborator, mentor and guide with the grace of a traditional teacher working from a textbook she knows cover to cover. Perhaps the most telling of all, students continue discussing the topic among themselves as the session ends and they file out of the classroom. Unfortunately this type of teaching and learning happens all too infrequently and in far too few classrooms across America. Nationally, the instructional emphasis is shifting away from rote memorization toward applied learning. This creates new opportunities for collaborative and blended teaching and learning models that emphasize critical thinking and the direct application of curriculum based skills to solving real world problems. The need and opportunities for exceptional innovation in education have never been greater.

D2D is a Georgia Original Teaching and Learning Environment and represents “connected teaching” at its best. To establish and expand robust college ready opportunities for students, D2D leverages high definition video conferencing and remote student access to lab equipment to create long-term (3 to 5 year) collaborative teaching partnerships between scientists working on the leading edge of discovery and teachers working with regular and high-needs students in core STEM subject classrooms.

Additionally, D2D provides a strong and flexible framework to dramatically increase work ready opportunities for students by establishing sustainable collaborations for students and teachers with industry engineers, programmers, medical professionals, and master craftsmen working in local companies. Here the goal is not only to align job skills and applied techniques and procedures from the workplace with the curriculum goals of core subjects, but also to establish and sustain a culture of collaborative leadership between schools and the working communities they serve.

D2D is not “event-driven” video-conferencing such as historical recreations or museum tours. The goal is to align the activities from the lab or workplace intimately with the curriculum requirements of a K-12 course and deliver highly interactive “project based” outreach to teachers who are fully trained to receive it and are working in classrooms fully equipped for students to leverage it.

Each long-term collaboration begins with a dedicated production team working in advance with the teachers, researchers and working professionals to develop course enhancements that consist primarily of a semester-long, highly interactive project that aligns the research in the lab or activities in the work place with the curriculum goals of each specific subject.

Direct To Discovery employs the Internet in a way that may at first seem counter intuitive in a society that confines an enormous percentage of social its communication to 144 characters or less. D2D is not designed to do things faster. It is designed to take the time necessary to fully leverage high-quality, collaborative instruction. D2D collaborations are established for three to five years allowing working relationships to evolve and deepen over time. From the perspective of teachers and their expert counterparts their partnership is a rich, rewarding, shared experience equally beneficial for them both.  The wireless network infrastructure of the model allows a good deal of flexibility for teachers to be reassigned to new classrooms and experts to remain upwardly mobile while maintaining a viable “connected learning” association.

From the perspective of the participating organizations the process offers a highly visible outreach program that pours high quality resources into public education while at the same time providing a continuous stream of outstanding public relation opportunities for the company. It also places key representatives from the company or university in a unique position to spot outstanding academic and creative talent.

From the perspective of university and private sector scientists, the project provides a web-based outreach program directly from the lab and at no cost to the university. Additionally, as more and more grants from major funding sources such as the National Science Foundation require an educational outreach component, D2D offers a readymade solution. It has been said that in such a competitive funding market D2D researchers enjoy an unfair advantage.

In one sense D2D collaborations represent a living curriculum that unlike a textbook, inherently renews itself by incorporating each new discovery in the lab or each new product, skill or service introduced into the workplace directly into the learning experiences of the students. The material remains relevant without the need for a five or seven year repurchasing cycle. When students have regular access to professionals working with parts of the curriculum they are studying, it is unusual for them to ask when they will ever use what they are learning.

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