Education is poised to make dramatic shifts right now, according to Rich Kiker. He should know. He’s been through some himself. While Rich grew as an educator, the training and pedagogy of Kiker Learning matured as well. Rich developed the company over the past five years, actually incorporating just last year. As a former technology teacher, it became evident to Rich early that his content would need to evolve quickly. “In order to give students the opportunities they deserved, I felt obligated to stay as informed as possible in all areas of our digital world in order to pass a lesson on to them,” he says. Such experience has helped inform his approach to professional development that delivers a clear vision for education growth and can help a single teacher or an entire district. Rich is an Instructional Technology and Design Consultant and certified Google Apps for EDU trainer specializing in professional development for new media, web applications, 1:1 computing, online learning, and technology pathways. Formerly a media technology chair and technology coordinator, he’s now a consultant for several educational agencies, school districts, and a professor of instructional technology. Here Rich shares his thoughts on professional development, education, technology and the most powerful shift that we can—and should—embrace.
Victor: Why did you create Kiker Learning?
Rich: Kiker Learning has given me the autonomy to leverage my combined passion for education and technology. I now have the opportunity to help educators, who are often terribly intimidated by technology, to become empowered with new media solutions. The first step in improving student achievement and readiness for success in their own careers is to provide our educators with the ways and means to do so. This endeavor allows me to do just that.
Victor: What does the name mean?
Rich: I know, it is terribly creative.
Rich: I am the creator/owner and we specialize in offering instructional technology training and professional development. Using “face to face”, hybrid, and online models, we focus on meeting the needs of our learners with inquiry-based discovery, product and process differentiation, and learner-centered customization.
Victor: What does it do? What are the benefits?
Rich: We advise and consult in many K-12 and higher education areas including:
- 1:1 Design and Sustainability
- Instructional Technology Curriculum – Full Life Cycle Design and Development
- Multimedia Technology Academy and Career Pathway Development
- Google Certified Apps Trainer for Education
- eLearning Curriculum Migration and Online Learning Solutions
- Web 2.0 and New Media Integration
- Global Connections and Collaboration
- Corporate Training
Victor: How is it unique from other similar products/services? What companies do you see as in the same market?
Rich: Kiker Learning is unique because of the expertise we offer for customized educational technology solutions. Our focus is to empower educators with the skills necessary to create vibrant and engaging classrooms. My own experience as a classroom teacher gives me a specific ability to connect with other educators that is often missing from other technology consulting firms.
Victor: When was it developed? What is something interesting or relevant about its development history?
Rich: I developed the company over the past five years but only became incorporated within the last year. The interesting thing about this company is that it grew and developed with my teaching career. As I grew as an educator the training and pedagogy of Kiker Learning matured as well. It has made us very good at meeting the individual needs of educators.
Victor: Where did it originate? Where can you get it now?
Rich: We are a service based organization in Pennsylvania but our online and custom learning programs are available worldwide.
Victor: How much does it cost? What are the options?
Rich: Varies based on need.
Victor: What are your thoughts on education these days?
Rich: Education is poised to make dramatic shifts right now. The industry has lagged behind the rapid growth of technology and how it has become the critical infrastructure for communication in our world. Every day that we do not focus on increasing the digital literacy of our students is a disservice and missed opportunity.
If we are going to repeat the last century of success in this country, we need to dramatically reshape our focus on problem based learning, inquiry design, and student-centered technology integration.
Students are the customer base for an investment in our nation’s future. We need to treat them as the most important asset our nation has because our care and attendance to their growth is vital for their success as well as our own. I can’t think of a more critically important vocation in the next 20 years.
Victor: What sort of formative experiences in your own education helped to inform your approach to creating Kiker Learning?
Rich: As a former technology teacher, it became evident to me early that my content would need to evolve quickly. In order to give students the opportunities they deserved, I felt obligated to stay as informed as possible in all areas of our digital world in order to pass a lesson on to them. This experience has made my company into a professional development organization that delivers a clear vision for educator growth with the ability to increase the technical capacity for a single teacher or an entire school district.
Victor: What is your outlook on the future of education?
Rich: The most powerful shift we can embrace is to be honest with ourselves on the realization that the most critical learning experiences in education are problem solving, communication, and collaboration. We have grossly overestimated the value of testing at the core of all curricula in our schools. The most innovative success stories in all industries have an underpinning of critical thinking, creativity and team work and I have yet to see how testing has impacted those same stories.
Victor: What else can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of Kiker Learning?
Rich: Simply put, we are making technology a much less intimidating concept for educators. We are giving our teachers the confidence and comfort to bring educational technologies into the classroom to make a strong impact on holistic student success. This service is long overdue and we hope to increase the value of education for all of learners. For more information or follow up please visit www.kikerlearning.com or email [email protected]. Tweet: @rkiker.
Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of EdTech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: [email protected]