RE@L Blog Reviews MINNEINNO: "Computers in the Classroom-Grading Minnesota’s Education Tech Ecosystem" - By Maddy Kennedy

MinneinnoRE@L is pleased this week to excerpt a recent article from a local online publication, “MINNEINNO“. Click on the link to the left for their full story. Their new national consortium focuses on tech innovations, as well as locally here in Minnesota.

MaddyIn their most recent Minnesota issue of “MINNEINNO,” author Maddy Kennedy describes the roles of MECC and other early EdTech entrepreneurs who brought a new “ecosystem” of technology to K12 teaching and learning over 40 years ago.

MECC GraphicBy way of background to her recent report, MECC and several other K12 software publishers had changed the K12 EdTech world back in the 1970′s. Learning not only became more “fun,” but more importantly, kids learned more broadly and deeply. Many teachers enjoyed these new tools as much as the students. That market faded when the U.S. tech stockmarket crashed in 2000.

phoenixSmoldering, like the mythical Greek firebird Phoenix, school use of new educational technology is incredibly rising again. You can’t keep good ideas down for long. The Phoenix rises again. (Note: RE@L has a previous blog on the rising of a new Phoenix in K12 technology. Click here to view it.)

As Kidblog CEO (click link for more information) founder Matt Hardy says in this MINNEINO issue: “EdTech has gone from fad to flame out to really serious opportunity again.”

Author Kennedy rightly sees the former MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation) as one of “The Pioneers” of this phenomenon. She writes:

DaleRE@L002[Dale] LaFrenz ….witnessed early tech superpowers like Honeywell, Control Data and IBM setting up shop in Minnesota. LaFrenz, along with other educators in the area, saw a powerful new industry growing around them, and knew that they wanted to get technology into the hands of their students:

You saw this concern emerging in Minnesota about kids, computers and the future,’ she quotes LaFrenz as saying. “Our vision was cloudy, but we had an idea.”

MECC and Apple Computer, just getting started, revolutionized the wide adoption of computers into classrooms everywhere. But times changed and so did the technologies. There were fewer comprehensive plans on usings these new tools successfully. 

      RE@L logo_Corp_TM_New Tag_8-15-17_CMYKMs. Kennedy goes on to say: “After a series of subsequent layoffs, the Minnesota office was shuttered in 1999…..[yet] LaFrenz stayed in the game after leaving MECC, and continues to work in EdTech today. Five years ago he co-founded RE@L with other, key ex-MECC executives. RE@L has largely been bootstrapped, and [now has a plan that] distributes software for STEM programs in schools.” 

“It’s not just this esoteric ‘Let’s combine [the] science and math’ thing,” LaFrenz said. “We wanted [in our next venture at RE@L] to help students really find a better, deeper understanding about the careers and opportunities available to them.” And that is precisely where RE@L plans to go next.

RE@L ModsRE@L is entering a pivotly important school year this year. New trails are about to be blazed by RE@L in the K12 STEM world. We are alerting our frequent readers to the emergence of new and powerful STEM software and resources for K12 teachers and students everywhere. RE@L has transformed the MECC model into a virtual, online RE@L portal that will provide instant STEM resources for teachers, students and parents, all at the touch of button.

Further, students will be able to link their work with other students, connect with STEM experts, report their findings in other collaborative reports and journals.

Think real-world work and RE@L’s new world of access to it.

RE@L is bringing our readers three new, key serial blogs that will describe more fully this exciting new world of STEM learning.

  • What will RE@L’s new STEM courses provide? How will students and teachers use the resources?
  • What do their STEM projects look like?
  • How will these RE@L learner-groups show the real world that they not only know, they can do, extrapolate, report and play a key role in furthering knowledge and their own understandings?

Exciting, isn’t it! Stay tuned!


Thanks to author Maddy Kennedy and to “MINNEINNO”

for their overview of history-writing Minnesota EdTech.

Check back soon for more information on RE@L’s exciting new STEM software and portal!

RE@L plans on being there to support educators and students everywhere and to make the STEM  journey a successful one.

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.