Louisiana Tech, the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOSFA) and Discovery Education have joined forces to provide personalized digital learning services for students across the state.
With this collaboration, students and teachers statewide will gain access to high-quality, flexible learning experiences through Louisiana GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).
“We are excited about collaborating with Discovery Education, a national leader in the delivery of resources and learning content for K-12 classrooms,” said Dr. Don Schillinger, Dean of the College of Education. “Combining our college’s years of experience in delivering successful learning programs for Louisiana GEAR UP with the expertise and production infrastructure of Discovery Education will provide engaging and meaningful instruction to students in Louisiana.”
Louisiana GEAR UP is a college access and readiness initiative administered by LOSFA, a program of the Louisiana Board of Regents. In partnership with 15 school districts, Louisiana GEAR UP aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.
GEAR UP schools are designated as high need or serving high populations of students of lower socioeconomic status. For many students, GEAR UP helps prepare them to become the first in their family to attend a two- or four-year institution following high school graduation. Louisiana GEAR UP serves more than 12,000 students in the state of Louisiana.
Over the next four years, Louisiana Tech and LOSFA will work together on the Connect2Success initiative that seeks to increase post-secondary enrollment by showing students the link between academics and careers. Connect2Success provides students with opportunities to job shadow, intern, plan careers, and develop skills necessary for success in the classroom and career of their choice. The program expands dual-enrollment and credentialing opportunities. During the program, students engage in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities, leadership seminars, professional development, and more.
“In this uncertain environment, it’s important that learning continues, even if it can’t happen in person,” said Dr. Tireka Cobb, Director of LOFSA’s Field Outreach Services and the Louisiana GEAR UP program. “We’re providing students access, and more importantly, the opportunity to continue learning this summer. Thanks to this partnership, students will still be able to work with expert faculty and staff at Louisiana Tech, have access to improved online learning resources, opportunities to participate in virtual tutoring and mentoring, and be able to continue taking positive strides towards their post-secondary education and career goals.”
The original goal for the collaboration was for Louisiana Tech to provide year-round programming to partners in Monroe City Schools and Morehouse and Madison Parishes. Now, students and teachers across the state in GEAR UP schools will be able to engage through online delivery.
To ensure the safety and health of all participants during the COVID-19 pandemic, GEAR UP summer camps and professional development experiences originally scheduled to be held at Louisiana Tech this summer have now transitioned to online experiences. This includes three professional development sessions for teachers and four week-long summer camp experiences being led by faculty, staff, and students from each of the colleges on Tech’s campus and with help from partners from other community organizations and educational institutions including Monroe City Schools, Delta Community College, and Grambling State University. The partnership with Discovery Education will be a key feature of programming for participating students and teachers in the online format.
“Discovery Education Experience is uniquely suited to connect students participating in Louisiana Tech University’s GEAR UP program to unique, real-world learning experiences that create a lasting impact,” Discovery Education’s National Partnership Coordinator Tomi Rael said. “We are thrilled Discovery Education was selected to support GEAR UP and are looking forward to working closely with the talented team at the University’s College of Education and Science and Technology Education Center.”
Through the Louisiana GEAR UP grant, stakeholders will receive access to Discovery Education Experience – a high quality digital service whose content and instructional supports for educators help enrich student learning and extend it to the real world. Discovery Education produces standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms and connects students to exciting learning experiences no matter their location or device.
“We are very excited about our official partnership with Discovery Education and the limitless opportunities it will provide our LA GEAR UP, PK-12, undergraduate, and graduate students,” said Dr. Lindsey Vincent, Associate Dean of Research, Outreach, and Innovation in the College of Education and SciTEC Director. “Their social and emotional learning (SEL) and STEM-centered educational and career content are engaging and interactive components that will significantly enhance the digital learning experiences we are co-constructing for those we serve.”
Discovery Education currently serves about 4.5 million educators and 45 million students worldwide, and its resources are accessed in over 140 countries.