In the first part of our video, you’ll meet Tim Beekman, President and Co-Founder at SAFARI Montage, a highly recommended resource referred to you by the Learning Counsel. According to Beekman, “We started Safari a long time ago, in 1987, with the concept of a digital delivery platform. Safari stands for Students and Faculty Actively Retrieving Information. So, there's a method behind the madness. I think one of the keys for us was the introduction of IMS Global and Standards into digital. We were the first ones to do that in the country, to facilitate that. And another great piece that happened to us in the last few years is we became very large partners with both Google and Microsoft.
“Our idea here is very simplistic, although complicated at the back end. It is that the idea of equity means that ‘I have the ability to grab any resource or create any source, whether that's designed for my district or designed for a broader scope,’ it's important simplification. I don't want 40 places to go to, to every place and every item in our model and every content provider. Over 300 at this point integrate their content into our system. Within the Safari system, one federated search for all this, one ability to create playlist for this item, one ability for students, parents and teachers to facilitate and request this data. One click to add your data to the LMS and it is very easy to do so. We take the content, we vet it,
we add standards for your state, even your local standards, and we make it so that it all is transparent across your delivery platform.”
Next up in our video is Tricia Kennedy, the Executive Director of Instructional Development and Support at Gwinnett County Public Schools, and a long-time friend to the Learning Counsel. For 35 years, she has been with Gwinnett and watched it grow and progress into a sophisticated learning powerhouse with over 180,000 students. According to a very modest Kennedy, “We met with relative success last spring and this year. And I say relative, because as we know nothing's been optimal. But we kept school going from day one and we kept learning going the entire time and really at a very high rate of the fidelity and a high rate of student success, especially compared to what it could have been. I really think that's been a story of our preparation, what came in the years prior to the pandemic that's made the difference for us. I want to share with you a little bit of that story…”
Gwinnett Public Schools is arguably one of the most successful school districts in America, and their digital transition is an example from which virtually every other district in America can learn. But their success is not an overnight story. Hear how Kennedy and the district positioned themselves for success, and how the pandemic only strengthened their resolve and, in many ways, accelerated their plans to become a more equitable place for learners.