By: Carlene Judge, Former Director of Research for Sarasota County Schools
EdExploreSRQ.com kicked off in August 2011. Still in its infancy, the website is a rich tool for teachers to connect community resources to student learning, particularly in the areas of science and art. Now, we’ve formally solicited feedback from teachers to check our progress. Here’s some of what they had to say:
One Sarasota County teacher said, “I have been waiting six years for a tool like EdExplore. In the past, I would have to go to so many websites to locate information. Now, every link I need and all of the opportunities are in one place.”
EdExplore lists explorations available to students through community organizations and local artists, such as field trips, experts in the classroom, SAFARI LIVE presentations (webcasts), artists in residence, borrowing resources (e.g. artifacts), using laboratories, online resources and more.
Explorations correlate to curriculum benchmarks so that teachers know what students will be learning from the experiences.
One teacher who collaborated with a scientist and had students participate in a study the organization was conducting said, “The biggest thing is I didn’t ever get the question ‘why am I learning this? When will I ever need this?’ Kids made the connection with the real world. When I found out about EdExplore, I didn’t realize it existed. I couldn’t believe that the resource was there and people didn’t know about it.”
The biggest hurdle that EdExplore still has to overcome is marketing. Many teachers do not yet know that the tool exits. The School Board is planning a SAFARI LIVE presentation on April 3 from 3:30-4:15 p.m. At this demonstration we will give away two iPads and four $500 EdExploration scholarships available to people that watch and people that follow up with feedback. They will draw one iPad 2 and one Scholarship during the demonstration.
The good news is that the teachers who have used EdExploreSRQ.com have found the tool useful (86% of the teachers surveyed).
90% of the teachers who used EdExplore said they would recommend it to a colleague.
EdExploreSRQ.com is growing and adding new explorations all the time. Many of the explorations do have fees attached and teachers can apply for funding through The Education Foundation. A tab on the website suggests possible funding sources.
A recipient of Education Foundation funding said, “Many of our students have never been to the beach or any of the wonderful community resources we have. It gave our students opportunities they would have never had.”