Executive director with Curriki

LearniT, Toronto-based Nortel Networks’ philanthropic initiative that aims to raise awareness around the impact of digital technology on learning, has partnered with Curriki to build a combined free online forum for creating and sharing instructional materials.

The idea is that teachers will apply the materials to their curricula to better integrate digital technologies such as imaging and video into a range of subjects including mathematics and social studies.

Originally founded by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc., Curriki is an independent non-profit organization that strives to enhance education with freely available material.

The forum will include such training tutorials for discovering the potential of the Internet, Web content creation, Web 2.0 communication, video production, digital image, online safety, digital ethics, to name some.

Nortel will contribute its experience in academia and incorporating technology into curricula and Curriki will bring its curriculum publishing platform, hosting and marketing services.

The partnership is an opportunity to create an environment where “every child and every teacher worldwide” can understand the use of technology in learning and teaching, said Bobbi Kurshan, executive director with Curriki. “We are absolutely changing the way we think about teaching and learning going into the 21st century,” she said.

She added that the lack of qualified instructors and sufficient instructional materials has a “profound negative impact” on a community’s graduation rates, health and crime.

We are absolutely changing the way we think about teaching and learning going into the 21st centuryBobbi Kurshan,>TextThe amalgamation of tools and activities designed by Nortel with Curriki’s collaborative platform will “make a very powerful community,” said Dennis Carey, executive vice-president of corporate operations with Nortel.

Nortel’s LearniT initiative is delivered in part by Nortel’s “ambassadors”, or volunteer employees who possess the IT knowledge and “passion to help learners,” and offers support for such programs like Dream A Dream. Carey foresees that the partnership’s combined resources will make the programs and the results they reap “get better and better.”

The partnership will eventually lead to the creation of combined ambassadors from both organizations to help spread the programs globally, said Kurshan.

The established presence of Nortel and Curriki – which each run programs in about 40 countries – will also strengthen that impact, said Greg farmer, vice-president of community relations with Nortel.

Kurshan anticipates the initiative will eventually change how teachers approach the craft and build learning programs that incorporate the latest digital technology. “As we drive this transformative idea in education, you’ll see a significant change in how people build curriculum,” she said.

And not only will teachers become better engaged, but so will students, she added.

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