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The Real World

We talk a lot about preparing learners for the “real world.”   Over the years, we’ve used terms like workforce readiness or 21st century skills, but it’s always been an important part of our job as educators, and it’s certainly a focus in the SmartLab.  Often, the best we can do in a classroom is simulate real world situations and challenges.  It’s a good start, but many educators strive to do more.

Enter Steve Tucker.  Steve is the Facilitator in the Hirschi High School SmartLab in Wichita Falls, Texas.  He’s a great friend of the company, and helps lead our Advanced Facilitator Development Conference every summer.  Steve’s SmartLab has become one of the most successful student video production programs in the country, collecting 11 Telly Awards, a prestigious award for local, regional and cable video production (notice we did not say “student” video production).

Steve’s team has been contracted to produce a 12-part video training series for Wichita County.  This isn’t a simulation, it’s an actual project for an actual client.  The students will need to produce a series that is both entertaining and informative and, along the way, learn about expectations and regulations of the workplace.  The project will benefit their community and earn money for their program.  Most importantly, they must satisfy a client.  That means clear communication, understanding of client needs and expectations, compromise of artistic vision — and let’s not forget about budgets and deadlines.  It doesn’t get any more “real world!”

Not every SmartLab program has the track record to take on such an ambitious project, much less get paid for it.  But every SmartLab can benefit from connecting with the local business and service community.  In addition to videos, students can produce websites, print ads, point-of-sale materials, menus, radio ads, etc.  The students learn valuable lessons that just cannot be simulated, the community receives low-cost or free talent, and the school gains priceless community support.  We are honored that SmartLabs can play a valuable role in fostering such connections.

Here’s an article in the Times Record News about Steve’s program and their video project!

Matt Dickstein

Matthew Dickstein, CEO of Creative Learning Systems, has been a successful entrepreneur in the field of education for over 25 years. Prior to joining CLS in 2004, he played key management roles in building National Technological University, a pioneer in the field of higher education distance learning, and ELS Language Centers, the largest teacher of intensive English language programs in the U.S. Matthew received a B.S. in business from the University of Colorado and holds an M.B.A from Harvard Business School.

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