Remember Marco Polo? I still have a couple training binders for it on my bookshelf. Back in 2000, the WorldCom Foundation partnered with renowned educational organizations to create a collection of Internet resources for teaching K-12 content in every academic discipline. They did everything right. For the math resources, they partnered with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the professional organization that changed the way mathematics is taught with it Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. For the science sections, they worked with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Geographic Society. Across the board, they worked with the experts in every subject area to pull together the best online resources for K-12 teachers and students.
To promote this resource, they provided free materials for train-the-trainer sessions. They sent us binders, notebooks, curriculum guides, brochures, and mouse pads. We held several inservice programs to introduce teachers to the tool. I even made a little web site to help teachers find the resources quickly.
So what happened? In the wake of the accounting scandals and bankruptcy, Worldcom changed its name to MCI. MCI was purchased by Verizon. Verizon continued the Marco Polo project for a few years, but last summer, it disappeared.
A couple weeks ago, I ran across ThinkFinity. Patrick Gaston, Verizon’s president, proudly introduces the site:
It is with great pleasure that we announce the creation of Thinkfinity, the Verizon Foundation’s signature digital learning platform designed to improve educational and literacy achievement.
ThinkFinity is a collaboration between Verizon and leading educational organziations and content providers. These include NCTM, the National Geographic Society, the AAAS and all of the other organizations that worked on the Marco Polo project. It looks like all the neat stuff is still there. Not everything on the web is new, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful.