Today, November 21st, the White House honored Peninsula College educator Brian Walsh as one of ten national “Champions of Change” for his creative approach to using technology to enhance learning.
As the college corrections education director, Walsh led an effort to expand the use of technology in prison classrooms at Olympic and Clallam Bay correction centers.
Prisoners at the corrections centers – who are not allowed internet access – can now learn from offline versions of the Khan Academy, Ted Talks, and other public sources using a secure network server in prison classrooms. Faculty can use online tools offline as part of their lessons.
The awards dovetail with the national ConnectED initiative launched by President Obama in June to connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed wireless internet in five years. As part of the initiative, the President challenged the federal government as well as states, districts, schools and communities to help prepare all teachers to thrive in a connected classroom and leverage technology to re-imagine learning.
Walsh also started the first prison-based Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program, a nationally recognized program that pairs basic education with hands-on job experience so students learn in real-world settings. In addition, he began new prison vocational programs: Sustainable Horticulture, Artisan Baking, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Green Building, and Computer Programing and Game Development.
A study released in August by the RAND Corporation found that inmates who participated in correctional education programs had 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than inmates who did not. The research was funded by the federal Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.