Education Innovators Exchange Ideas Across Continents

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RANDA Solutions hosts UK education advocate Lord Knight to meet with education leaders in Tennessee, including Memphis City Schools-related groups and the executive director of new charter school in Nashville

James Knight, UK parliamentarian and education innovator

James Knight, UK parliamentarian and education innovator

Our common interests in education innovation fuel our growing relationship.

Last week, U.S. education technology firm RANDA Solutions hosted a distinguished member of the UK’s House of Lords for conversations with local Tennessee education innovators. Lord James Knight not only has a notable history of public service as a parliamentarian, he is also Director of Step-A International Ltd, a consultancy providing strategic policy advice and support on use of education technology, and has served as the UK’s Minister of State for the Department for Education and Skills/Children, Schools and Families.

Conversations focused on virtual schools, mobile devices in the classroom, uses of data in making high-stakes decisions, and the latest advances in teacher observation technologies. “We knew we’d found a friend in Lord Knight when we met a few months ago in London,” said Marty Reed, RANDA’s CEO. “Our common interests in education innovation fuel our growing relationship.”

In Memphis, Reed introduced Lord Knight to a number of insightful Memphis City Schools-related groups, such as the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative Team (TEI) and STEM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Their meetings included a personal presentation by Dr. Kriner Cash, MCS Superintendent of Schools, of their “I teach. I am,” program. At one impactful moment with STEM Academy heads, an administrator pulled out her iPhone and showed Lord Knight a video of a robot built by a team of students participating in MCS's STEM Summer Camp of a robot built by students. His response was enthusiastic: "This needs to be on a blog- you need to show this stuff off! That is learning!"

Not all of Lord Knight’s meetings were hard business. While spending time in Nashville at RANDA's headquarters, Lord Knight was introduced to Art Fuller, executive director Nashville’s new charter school, Knowledge Academies. Fuller introduced Knight to a young man named Justice who is a high school volunteer for Fuller’s charter school. Lord Knight asked, "So, in the past, what did you like about school and teachers, not like, etcetera?" Justice's response, "I like doing stuff. The teachers that just stand up there and talk at you- well, I get bored. I want to DO something. I need to use my hands." Lord Knight agreed, laughing, "That was precisely the right answer."

Inasmuch as the UK outperforms the U.S. K-12 system by a number of measures, RANDA’s CEO finds encouragement in the interest expressed by the UK and Lord Knight. “We find this engagement with RANDA and Tennessee education significant,” concluded Reed. “Tennessee’s leadership in longitudinal data and our education technology solutions are resonating with innovators who understand what it takes to lead education forward.”

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Leslie Kendall
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