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New state standards trigger cross-disciplinary approach to preparing education specialists at Syracuse University
New state standards trigger cross-disciplinary approach to preparing education specialists at Syracuse UniversityOctober 01, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
As laptop computers replace overhead projectors in the classroom and computer terminals replace card catalogues in libraries, the digital trails forged by specialists in school library media and educational technology frequently converge, yielding new collaborative opportunities that ultimately enrich the educational experiences of students.
To better prepare college students in both the technologies and the cross-disciplinary environment they will encounter in their careers in education, Syracuse University has established a new interdisciplinary course that is the first of its kind in New York State among the seven universities that offer degrees and certifications in the fields of school library media and educational technology.
Developed in response to revisions in New York State Education Department requirements for the two fields of study, the course is a model for cross-disciplinary collaboration both within the University and among those working within the education community, says Ruth Small, professor and director of the nationally ranked School Library Media Program in the School of Information Studies.
“I believe that the new state requirements, although coming at a time when there is an urgent shortage of school librarians, will eventually increase the credibility and quality of school librarianship,” Small says.
The course, “Information Technologies in Educational Organizations,” was developed by Small and J. Michael Spector, professor and chair of
the department of Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation
(IDD&E) in the School of Education. They will co-teach the course with assistance from Pamela Revercomb, a doctoral student in the School of Information Studies; and Celestia Ohrazda, a graduate student in IDD&E’s Certificate of Advanced Studies program.
The School of Education has a program for educational technology within its IDD&E graduate programs, while the School of Information Studies has a school media program within its Master of Library Science Program, which is ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
The new state requirements mandate 100 hours of school-based technology-related fieldwork for students seeking certification in either field in addition to a previously required internship. The new SU course will enable students to complete 45 of those hours by working on projects submitted to the University by about 15 educational institutions in Central New York.
“The course will teach students to work collaboratively with educational professionals in other fields while also helping them to develop expertise in instructional and information technologies,” Small says. “These are skills they will be able to draw upon after graduation as they pursue their career goals.”
Both Small and Spector say the course is a first step toward broader intra-school collaboration at the University. “We eventually plan to develop a broader, cross-disciplinary curriculum, and we hope to establish an all-University Center for Digital Literacy,” Spector says. The research and development center would create and study innovative approaches to information, technology and media literacies.
One of the schools students will be working with during the Fall 2001 semester is Liverpool (N.Y.) High School, where they will help conduct a study that examines the reasons why some high school students enrolled in the school’s online courses drop out. The multidisciplinary student project teams will consist of students from both schools and on-site educators, such as teachers, library media specialists, educational technologists or administrators.
In addition to the field projects, the course will include a series of seminars, panel discussions and presentations by well-known professionals in the field. Topics range from assistive technologies for people with disabilities to ethical issues in technology use and distance learning technologies.