A new era of technology-enabled active learning

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In an era where technology is revolutionizing education, ASU Preparatory Academy Pilgrim Rest is raising the bar. Building on their existing partnership with Jamf, a global leader in device management, they recently hosted a hands-on workshop that let elementary students experience fun and cutting-edge tech. This exciting collaboration is a game-changer, unlocking new possibilities for student success through innovative learning.

ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest and Jamf share spirit of innovation

Jamf specializes in supporting educational institutions with seamless integration of Apple devices, boasting partnerships with over 43,000 schools worldwide. Their expertise lies in facilitating the large-scale rollout of these devices, making it easier for students and teachers to use technology for enhanced learning experiences. Dr. Suraj Mohandas, Jamf Vice President of Education Strategy, describes the company’s role as “the wizard behind the curtain,” allowing teachers to focus on instruction rather than device management.

Mohandas highlights the transformative potential of technology-enabled active learning (TEAL), saying, “This approach shifts the classroom focus from teacher-centered lectures to student-centric activities. It enables teachers to act as facilitators, helping students engage actively with technology tools across various subjects like math, coding, and geometry.”

The spirit of TEAL perfectly aligns with the goals of ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest, which is dedicated to personalized, student-centered learning experiences. This partnership particularly emphasizes the importance of STEM literacy from an early age. By fostering curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, this “kinder to career initiative,” as Mohandas calls it, prepares students for the future.

Hands-on learning with Sphero workshop

A recent workshop led by Dr. Dave Saltmarsh, Senior Director of Community Education Initiatives at Jamf, exemplified the power of TEAL in action. The event featured 28 third and fourth graders who were given iPads to control a Sphero, a durable, plastic robotic ball. Rather than providing direct instructions, Saltmarsh encouraged students to figure out how to pair the Sphero with the iPad, control it, and even code it to perform specific tasks.

Lily Grijalva, Assistant Principal at ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest, praised the process: “You’d think it would be chaos, but the students were engaged the entire time! The kids had to figure out how to connect the Sphero robot ball and teach each other. They learned to make the Sphero bounce, change colors, and navigate specific paths—all through inquiry-based learning.”

Another component that impressed Grijalva were the teacher-enabled pop-up messages that would provide all of the students with the next bit of instruction or guidance. Mohandas describes this as “just one of the simple things we can do to streamline instruction time.”

Learning through productive struggle

The concept of “productive struggle” emerged as a cornerstone of the workshop. This approach encourages students to grapple with challenges, fostering resilience and deeper understanding, as evidenced in their interactions with the Sphero. 

“Productive struggle is crucial in STEM spaces,” emphasized Rachna Mathur, Senior STEM Strategist at ASU Prep. “It’s okay to have a productive struggle, and we don’t have to be the experts in the room. That was also important to understand as a teacher, you’re acting as a facilitator and not necessarily as an expert.”

Grijalva echoes this sentiment, highlighting that the workshop was a valuable learning experience for both students and educators.

ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest: A center for STEM literacy

Mathur describes ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest as an “innovative center within the community,” offering various programs to promote STEM literacy. Their annual summer camp, sponsored by STEMology Club, invites K–8 students to learn fundamental coding concepts using Scratch and Osmo, with no prior experience needed. 

ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest also sets itself apart as the first and only K–8 school in the nation to offer a Dreamscape Learn Pod, an immersive learning and entertainment platform with cutting-edge virtual reality technology. This gamified curriculum allows students to visit virtual locations from Ancient Egypt to the surface of the moon.

The partnership with Jamf furthers ASU Prep’s mission by showcasing how technology-enabled learning encourages students to explore STEM, not only enhancing their immediate educational experiences but also preparing them for future success in technology-related fields.

What’s next?

Looking ahead, ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest has ordered a classroom set of Sphero robots to continue these hands-on learning experiences. The future of the partnership with Jamf involves engaging local Jamf employees with students through mentoring and volunteer opportunities at ASU Prep’s Pilgrim Rest and Downtown Phoenix campuses. Additionally, Jamf is collaborating with ASU Prep Digital to develop CTE engineering pathways and offer Jamf certifications.

Learn more about ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest’s commitment to helping students pursue their passions, achieve their goals, and build a lifelong love of learning.