Grant helps future teachers incorporate technology in the classroom
Grant helps future teachers incorporate technology in the classroomFebruary 10, 2004Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
“Technology” is the word of the day in many classrooms. Those preparing to become teachers are told repeatedly that they must incorporate technology into their classes, to train their students to become citizens of a high-tech world and to hold their attention in an era when most students are used to getting information from TV and computer screens.
But exactly how do teachers do this? Many of the public schools where future teachers participate in field placements have outdated or inadequate technology, and the classroom teachers who host teachers-in-training are often unprepared to help pre-service teaching students incorporate technology.
An initiative called Using Technology to Transform Teaching (UT3) aims to help future teachers solve this dilemma. The project, whose principal investigator is Joseph Shedd, chair of Teaching and Leadership Programs in the School of Education, was recently awarded a grant of $1.56 million from the U.S. Department of Education over three years. Partners in the project are the Syracuse City School District, University at Albany, SU’s Center for Digital Literacy, the Information Institute of Syracuse, Apple Computers and the New York State Department of Education.
By the end of the project, the University expects that each of its teaching graduates will be able to demonstrate effective use of technology in one of their student teaching placements. “Effective use” of technology will be defined as use of technology to actively engage all students in learning, enhance learning opportunities for students with disabilities or other special needs, address the curriculum and instructional priorities of the schools where they are placed and provide some resource that will be of ongoing benefit to the host teacher or school. Teaching students will also be expected to show examples of what their own students have learned as a result of their use of technology.
“The point isn’t to show that you can dazzle people with lots of digital wizardry,” Shedd says, “it’s to show that you can use technology in thoughtful, well-planned ways to promote more effective learning.”
Examples of ways in which SU student teachers have already incorporated technology into their teaching include creating online games to reinforce social studies concepts; developing a set of documents that students can use online; testing the effectiveness of special “assistive” technologies with students with multiple or severe disabilities; and creating an online database that allows public school students to take water samples from local streams, record and analyze such factors as algae content online, and (eventually) compare results with other public school students across the state.
SU’s UT3 project is a continuation of a previous three-year federal grant that concentrated on incorporating attention to technology throughout the School of Education’s teacher preparation curriculum.
In another, related part of the project, Syracuse University and partners in Albany aim to create an online system that pre-service teachers can use to document and analyze their own skills and what the youngsters they are teaching have actually learned. The same system will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of SU’s overall programs. “As remarkable as it may sound,” Shedd says, “teacher education programs have never before been required to systematically demonstrate that their own students can effectively promote their students’ learning. We have lots of pieces of evidence to make that claim about our graduates. We and our University at Albany partners aim to be among the first programs to be able to make that claim systematically and across the board.”