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Technology Takes Teachers Beyond the Physical Classroom

Date: June 28, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News

A summer institute at the University of Cincinnati has enabled teachers around the area to go high-tech in their own classrooms, after they learned from the leaders in the technology field. The two-week institute was featured under the College of Education's Comprehensive Educational Restructuring and Technology Infusion Initiative, or CERTI. Attendees were UC faculty, students and mentor teachers who work with UC's teaching interns, all selected to take part after they submitted proposals for incorporating technology in their own projects. TechCat Joy Bensiger offers assistance

The first week of sessions covered uses of different technology such as videoconferencing. In a session led by Laura Dell, projects manager for WCET-TV, Dell demonstrated an Internet-based system with a setup that included an Intel camera and headset. "This is less than a $200 investment, since you already have computers at your site," said Dell, who added phone-based videoconferencing can bring in a clearer picture, but it's with a higher cost. The simple setup started triggering ideas among the audience.

"I travel to Amelia each week because I meet with the student teachers. This could be a good way to hold those meetings from my office," said David Naylor, UC professor of teacher education.

"From the office, the faculty member could meet with the supervisory teachers and UC teaching interns," added Joyce Pittman, UC assistant professor and director of the CERTI project. "You can give the student feedback and meet with the mentor teacher and do the videoconferencing right from their own classroom."

Other sessions covered how to use Blackboard, capture video to put on a website or CD-ROM, digitizing video, and how to design plans to incorporate technology and meet educational standards. Professors David Naylor and Florence Newell Pittman and Jeff Gordon, UC professor of educational technology, were among faculty who led the sessions, as attendees sat at desktops and tested the demonstrations. Pittman said that at the start of the institute, the UC Blackboard Internet site had only 73 hits but it has now reached over 3,000.

"As project director, one of my top priorities is to ensure that our teachers, faculty, students, technical support and administrators have the best technology-pedagogy training in the nation," Pittman wrote in an email to attendees. "You may say this is ambitious, but I genuinely believe that one of the ways to accomplish this is to give everyone access to high quality computers, Internet access, and educational technology training and development."

Technology is changing classrooms from the days when teachers stood in front of class and wrote with chalk and the students sat at wooden desks. Gordon gave a glimpse of the new world opened through technology: "Instead of the teacher and the books being the source of information, the teacher could be a biologist on the Pacific coast, linked to the classroom for a talk about sea urchins, or maybe a scientist at NASA."

As participants worked on their project proposals through the second week of the institute, the CERTI TechCats were on hand to answer any questions. The TechCats are UC graduate students who learn the latest technology and assist UC faculty and students as they develop high-tech lessons for their classrooms. Through the institute, TechCats Joy Bensiger, Danielle Dani and Wei Cao were spreading their expertise beyond the UC campus by being on hand for mentor teachers joining the Institute, such as Tom Nelson, a teacher at Pleasant Run Middle School, Steve Kroeger of Nagel Middle School and Lisa Freedman from Chase School. TechCat Danielle Dani and Steve Kroeger

Kroeger, Freedman and Anne Bauer, UC professor of teacher education, were members of one team working on the same project, a presentation on functional behavior assessment to put on compact diskette. Kroeger says the project would be a guide to help teachers use the assessment tool to create understanding and supports for students who have challenging and even destructive behaviors in the classroom. "We've used digital images and harvested material from the Internet to enhance our own text in this rough draft."

Teams presented what they had accomplished with their projects on the last day of the institute, and they will do a presentation on their final product at a CERTI conference in September.

This marked the second summer for the institute under the CERTI $2.7 million initiative, half of which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The remaining funding comes from the local and national partners involved in the project, including Cincinnati Public Schools, Ohio SchoolNET, WCET-TV, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Kent State University, Iowa State University, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Generation www.Y. Other university partners include University Libraries, UC Office of Information Technologies, the Warren County Center and the University of Cincinnati Clermont County Center.

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