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Collaborative Learning Initiative Bringing Students Together in Lake Nona

Goggles that track your reading speed and whiteboards that connect classrooms from coast to coast may sound like the school supplies of students in 2060, but students in Lake Nona are getting a taste of this technology right now, in 2012.

The schools are using this technology as part of the Collaborative Learning Environment, a unique learning concept spearheaded by Mark Hayes of the Lake Nona Institute.

Nemours Children’s Hospital (pictured) will use state-of-the-art whiteboard technology to help make sure students can still attend class virtually, even when they’re hundreds of miles from home as part of the Collaborative Learning Environment initiative in Lake Nona.

“It’s a culture of learning that revolves around personalized solutions and collaboration,” says Hayes. “It’s an environment where learning happens collaboratively. Not to be funny with the play on words, but it’s a place where all stakeholders collaborate on creating a new learning model designed to inspire learners of all ages.”

Hayes says that the Collaborative Learning Environment is based off of the notion that learning does not solely occur in the classroom; it happens everywhere through everything you do. The Collaborative Learning Environment also borrows from the model of Medical City in that students, teachers, parents and professionals are brought together in one space.

The difference is that, although Medical City brings people together physically, the Collaborative Learning Environment brings people together virtually. Through the Promethean board, an interactive whiteboard that is installed in the Lake Nona classrooms and Laureate Park homes, students and parents can beam into the classroom via video conference.

“We’re able to expose the kids in this classroom to people they’ll never have the opportunity to meet,” says Hayes. “We’re able to expose the teachers who are out in the field, who are out on an archeological dig, and the kids are right there with them.”

Nemours Children’s Hospital will also use the boards for patients who come from out of town. Hayes says their schools can be mailed a webcam that will enable the students to attend class as if they never left home.

Check out the complete transcript of the

interview with Mark Hayes of the Lake Nona Institute.

But the whiteboards aren’t the only technology being deployed as part of the Collaborative Learning Environment. Lake Nona schools are also using the Reading Plus program, which measures students’ fluency in silent reading. The program determines the students’ reading abilities and, through use of special goggles and a visagraph, will track their left-to-right eye movements, or their reading speed.

According to Adam Hodges, the representative for Reading Plus, the whole goal of the program is to inspire students to love reading.

“That’s the underlying motivation – we’re trying to develop people who love to read,” says Hodges. “Because if you don’t like it, you’re not going to do it.”

While the Collaborative Learning Environment was created to cultivate students’ minds, parents and teachers can benefit from it as well. Because the Promethean boards are also stationed in the homes of Laureate Park, parents can now be a part of their child’s learning environment.


“Say a teacher has a concept and say a mom has an expertise in something. The teacher can call up that person and say ‘Hey, would you like to tap in for 15 minutes and talk to our kids and give an example?’ No longer does a parent have to give up half a day, drive down, show up in a classroom. Right then and there, from their living room, they can beam into the classroom, contribute and vice versa,” says Hayes.

Overall, the goal of the Collaborative Learning Environment is to prepare the students of today to be the leaders of tomorrow.

“We’re trying to prepare kids to solve problems that we don’t yet know exist,” says Hayes. “It’s about giving kids the opportunity to learn to critically think, to research, analyze and make decisions in real time.”

By Marisa Ramiccio

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About Insight Magazine

Insight Magazine is an issue-focused, community-driven free monthly print publication focused on the neighborhoods of Waterford Lakes, Avalon Park, Vista Lakes and Lake Nona. Inside Insight's pages and online at www.InsightEastOrlando.com you'll find community news, human interest stories and profile pieces focused on your community and the people that make it great. To learn more or to find out how you can be a part of Insight, call us at 407.382.5660 or email our publisher by clicking here.

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