K4STEMLAB students to work "in the cloud" with state-of-the-art tools including Classlink Launchpad!

It goes without saying that one of the key forces driving our creation of the K4STEMLAB is the relentless and accelerating pace of technological change. Schools and organizations everywhere struggle to keep up, forced to contemplate expensive and complex infrastructure improvements to give students powerful, accessible learning environments with the resources they need to be creative, collaborative and effective learners. It's a gargantuan task. We are absolutely thrilled to announce our partnership with Classlink, who will be providing their award-winning Launchpad service to students in the K4STEMLAB at Northfield Community School for the 2012-13 school year! What's Classlink Launchpad? Check out this quick video overview:

You can find other helpful Classlink videos




, and


. But what is "The Cloud?" This video from ABC News explains, in layman's terms:

But why does it MATTER, particularly in K-12 schools? The

New Media Consortium's 2012 Horizon Project

has this to say about cloud computing:

Cloud computing has become the unifying factor among content and applications on the many devices people use in everyday life. Whether connecting at home, work, school, on the road, or in social spaces, nearly everyone who uses the network relies on cloud computing to access their information and applications. The ability to access services and files from any location and on any device offers considerable promise for extending learning beyond the boundaries of the school day.

We have yet to talk here on the blog about other cloud-based services K4STEMLAB students will be utilizing - most notably, Google Apps for Education - but one of the reasons we are so excited about Launchpad is that it seamlessly integrates with our existing network infrastructure, giving students the ability to access existing network files, shares and other resources from any Internet-connected device. We live in a blended world. Cloud-based tools like Launchpad will give our students the ability to access and utilize legacy applications like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel while we move closer to becoming a "Google School" just a few short years from now. It's coming. NCS students will be ready!

This post is part of a series about our plans to "reinvent" my K-4 Computer Lab class as a STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology & Math) course starting in September 2012. By "thinking out loud" here I hope to keep stakeholders apprised of our ideas, activities & progress while I gain wisdom and perspective from anyone who cares to join the conversation.