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Profile: Joyce Pittman, Education
Using Technology With a Caring Touch

Story by: Dawn Fuller
Photos by: Lisa Ventre

Technology is connecting us to learning communities around the world and opening up possibilities that we never imagined before. However, this new frontier is always changing as we discover faster, cheaper and more creative ways to use technology.

As we consider how our children will compete in this brave, new world, our challenges involve far more than getting computers into every classroom. Will every child in the classroom be able to catch on, or are some getting left behind? What about proper training for teachers? Are the folks who still remember the vinyl album, the eight-track player, and filmstrips thoroughly understanding and using computers, CD-ROMS and video to benefit learning?

Joyce Pittman

Joyce Pittman, UC assistant professor of instructional technology, is helping to answer those questions for local, state and national educators. Pittman says she is devoted to keeping children out in front on the information superhighway. "I really care about teaching. I believe technology can make a difference and improve the quality of life."

Pittman pioneered a method of researching and evaluating technology education which is now used nationwide. The model measures the effectiveness of teacher training partnerships involving universities and schools. The Cincinnati Initiative for Teacher Education (CITE) is a nationally acclaimed teacher training partnership that includes UC, Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. Pittman is raising the program to a higher level of excellence with the addition of the Comprehensive Educational Restructuring and Technology Infusion Initiative (CERTI). Pittman is the principal investigator of a $2.7 million, three-year initiative and is CERTI project director. CERTI will provide UC students, professors, and teachers with the expertise to use technology in teaching and learning.

"CITE is already at the forefront of teacher education I've worked with models across the country. Ohio is far ahead of many states in terms of technology. The only problem has been implementation. With CERTI, students will now have access to teachers who are being prepared to help children improve their learning opportunities. They'll be teaching to the many different learning styles students have, and we'll be expanding opportunities for parent, school and community connections."

"On the national level, there are great expectations for this new initiative, in part because of my position of being a national pioneer and leader in this field," Pittman continues. "I've been working in this field for the past 28 years, promoting and advocating high standards for teachers. I'm putting myself in the trenches and I want to make this happen."

Pittman was on top of national developments in educational technology as CERTI was created. She was a leading member of a writing team that developed national technology standards to guide teacher education programs across the country. Pittman was nominated for the team by fellow members of the International Society for Technology in Education, a nonprofit professional organization to promote and support teaching and learning through information technology. The standards, created with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, are expected to be adopted by all 50 states by 2002.

On the international level, Pittman was a prominent speaker at an educational conference last July in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference explored the global impact on education in response to changing social, political and economical situations as well as evolutions in technology.

Joyce Pittman with student Kevin Bonecutter

Pittman has strived for equality in urban schools, which in terms of technology are behind nationally, due to lack of equipment, fewer or nonexistent Internet hookups, and outdated computers. Her advocacy for technology goes beyond the educational institution, and with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, she was a key researcher of a study exploring the Cincinnati community's access to technology.

Furthermore, Pittman shares parental concerns about cybersafety, and is promoting awareness and responsibility for teachers and parents. In an article co-authored by Pittman and published in the Educational Leadership Journal, Pittman examined educational sites geared toward children. She found that far too many of them invited children to register personal information. Furthermore, her research revealed that features used to shut children out of unsuitable web sites were either too restrictive, closing them off from useful information, or they weren't restrictive enough. The report included recommendations on shaping future safety education programs and suggestions for parents and teachers to share responsibility in educating children about cybersafety.

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