State technology-based learning gets international attention

Computers and smart boards fill more than 3,500 Missouri classrooms as part of the eMINTS program.

And John Willing, a principal at at Bletchington Public School in Orange NSW from Australia, and his wife Lois who is also a teacher, came to Bush Elementary in Fulton, Mo. to see just how those learning tools are impacting Fulton students.

"Many of our students are disengaging from education," Willing said. "They are indicating with their behaviors that what you teach me and the way you teach me is irrelevant to the way that I want to learn and what I want to learn. And eMINTS attacks that directly."

Missouri educators created the eMINTS program in 1997. The program is a technology-based way of learning that aims to engage students more than traditional methods of learning. The eMINTS program is implemented in seven other states in addition to Missouri and expanded internationally just two years ago.

While Bush Elementary has been an eMINTS school for a decade, the school John Willing is at in Australia has only had the program for two years and can already see the positive changes eMINTS brings to his students.

"Our results in literacy in particular was just astronomical because those children wanted to learn; they wanted to be in the classroom," Willing said.

Fulton educators have seen that same kind of progress.

"They're getting the benefit of not just learning information, but applying that information and actually using it in a new way," Fulton Technology Education Specialist Craig Snethen said. "And they're getting some real learning that's a long term memory, not something that they're going to just memorize for a test."

eMINTS focuses on student engagement, believing that the more engaged a student is, the more she learns and the more she remembers in the future.

eMINTS officials said they are concerned the program's potential could be in jeopardy as school districts face tough budget cuts, often affecting personnel and technology.