Best Buy Canada is looking to award $200,000 in technology grants to teachers and students who are passionate about technology in the classroom. Starting Monday, September 13, Canada’s fastest growing retailer of consumer electronics will begin accepting entries for its 2010 Best in Class Fund program.
The need for effectively incorporating the latest technology into Canadian schools was highlighted in a 2009 survey of advanced use of ICTs (Integrated Communications Technologies) conducted by the International Telecommunications Union. The survey showed that Canada dropped to 19th place, down ten places from its ninth place standing in 2002, indicating that Canada is losing its competitive edge regarding technology into the classroom.
The Best in Class Fund program was conceived in 2008 to inspire teachers and students to develop compelling educational projects that will advance learning through the integration of technology in the classroom. This type of learning is recognized as key for scholastic success by numerous experts including Dr. David Vogt, Director of Digital Learning at the University of British Columbia’s Educational Technology Department and member of the Best in Class Technology Advisory Board.
“There are numerous studies that show how the effective use of technology by trained teachers can create a superior learning experience for students,” says Dr. Vogt. “What makes Best in Class such a strong program is that it equips schools with cutting edge technology and then brings in experts to help teachers and students understand how they can best integrate this new technology into the classroom.”
In addition to $20,000 for the latest in digital technology, each of the ten winning schools will also receive in-the-classroom support and ongoing online support from Best Buy’s Geek Squad. Experts in technology installation, trouble shooting and functionality, the Geek Squad will offer their expertise to the teachers and students of the winning schools to help them understand how to get as much as possible out of this new technology to maximize the learning experience.
The submissions will be reviewed by the Best in Class Technology Advisory Board comprised of leaders in the areas of technology and education. This year’s advisory board members include: Dr. David Vogt, Director of Digital Learning Projects for the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Education; Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Chair of Educational Studies in Language, Culture & Technology at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Education; as well technology experts and respected journalists Marc Saltzman and Francois Charron.
The Best in Class Fund Program began in 2008 and to-date Best Buy has donated $500,000 in technology grants to schools in Canada. The program is open to teachers and students in grades 7 – 12 in BC, AB, SK, MB, ON and NS, levels 2 – 5 in French-speaking QC schools and grades 8 – 11 in English-speaking QC schools.
Students and teachers are asked to develop their proposals, which must include a video and a written proposal that outline how they would like to integrate various consumer electronic technologies in the classroom and how it will provide an educational benefit, and submit online between Monday, September 13 and Sunday, October 24, 2010. One submission is allowed per school and it can come from a single class, or from a cross section of students and teachers from the same school, such as Student Council or other student clubs.
“We want students to not have to worry about supplies – we realize schools are on tight budgets and can use the help,” says Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada. The Recycle For Education program is easy; used cartridges can be dropped off into specially marked recycling bins at any of the more than 320 stores in Canada.
Money is donated to elementary and high schools registered with the program and any publicly funded elementary and secondary schools are welcome to sign up.
To be eligible, schools are asked to register with the program between September 1 and December 31, 2010. Funds raised from the previous year will be distributed in May 2011, in the form of a Staples gift card, to participating schools.