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A technology lesson from Education

Bankers wrestling with going paperless can learn a lot from a high school program

A technology lesson from Education

Creating an electronic version of a paper process is not how you exploit the power of 21st century technology. Conversely, it is doubtful that traditional thinking will achieve anything beyond my opening statement. Ouch! It is unfortunately true.

Take some time and visit today’s high school classroom. What you will witness is a transformation in thinking, teaching, and technology. A great example of this is the Glass Paper Project launched by Fargo Public Schools in North Dakota.

Headed up by Jodell Teiken, director of instructional resources and the vision behind the program, the Glass Paper Project is an initiative that will ultimately create an immersive, virtual learning environment delivering resources to promote learning based on students’ individual needs.

Educators are “all in” but it is not an easy task to design lessons that are technology enabled. I remember an assignment that my high school business math teacher Mr. Soennichsen gave us (a great teacher, by the way). He asked us to go through one day without using numbers and then write about it. It had a profound impact on me and truly demonstrated how connected our daily lives are to math. It forced me to re-think how I did things and that was no easy task.

Classrooms, lesson plans, and teaching are inextricably connected to paper-based tools and resources. Textbooks, binders, notebooks, hand-outs, review sheets are present in every classroom.  They just can’t be eliminated overnight or even during the summer period. Of course, this sounds a lot like banking, too! Get rid of the paper, you’ve got to be kidding… RIGHT?

It takes hard work and a massive collaborative effort by educators to redefine the classroom education delivery system, but their efforts are paying off. Every student in grades10-12 has a tablet computer, simply referred to as a device. All textbooks are online and each educator has a web-page online for their specific class.

It is truly amazing what is going on in the classrooms within the Fargo Public School district.  As I interact with the students at Davies High School, I am amazed by what is transpiring. Through this immersive application of technology, educators, administrators and students are truly learning how to use technology.

There are numerous parallels between education and the financial industry. It is a daunting task to replace traditional thinking and the embedded tools that accompany this thinking with contemporary technology and new methods; but it needs to be done. The students are graduating with the skills and thinking processes that will not match up with the financial industry, and when they are hired by your institution they will immediately take a huge step backwards on the technology time clock. Wow, not a good thing!

Fargo Public Schools has implemented the Glass Paper Project and they are not the only district in the country that shares this vision. It is an exciting time in the classroom.

My advice: every banking executive and technologist should go back to school. You will be surprised what will you will learn about your bank!

The Wombat!           

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at dan@copperrivergroup.com.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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