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SOE professors take center stage at Shanghai forum on teacher education
SOE professors take center stage at Shanghai forum on teacher educationDecember 10, 2007Patrick Farrellpmfarrel@syr.edu
Dean Douglas Biklen and a contingent of faculty members from Syracuse University’s School of Education were among the featured presenters at the Third International Forum on Teacher Education. The annual forum, held in November at East-China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai, has come to play an increasingly influential role in support of higher education in China and a number of Asian countries. This year’s event attracted more than 250 educators from China and 21 other countries.
The forum is sponsored by ECNU’s International Center of Teacher Education, an organization established by a 2004 agreement between ECNU and UNESCO to promote inter-university cooperation in research, graduate teaching and faculty/student exchange in support of knowledge creation in China. Conceived as an institutional innovation to eliminate compartmentalization in higher education, the center’s mission is to transform teacher education by building on strengths in different areas of study through inter-departmental collaboration. The center’s International Forum on Teacher Education has become a clearinghouse for new ideas about education policy and practices in teacher education reform. This year, SU’s School of Education enhanced its visibility at the forum by joining with three UNESCO bureaus to become an official support organization.
As one of the event’s keynote speakers, Biklen lectured on the topic of “Scholarship in Action: University Partnerships with Public K?12 Education.” His presentation detailed SU’s district-wide partnership with the Syracuse City School District, an urban school district that serves students from predominantly low-income families and diverse ethnic and language backgrounds. In the lecture, Biklen provided an overview of the extensive research on school reform, professional development and mentoring of novice teachers, and school leadership that is the basis of this unique partnership.
Each of the School of Education faculty members who attended the forum also made formal presentations. Jing Lei, assistant professor of instructional design development and evaluation, presented a paper titled “Teachers’ Adoption of Technology Innovation into Pedagogical Practices.” Lei’s lecture focused on what is popularly called the “technology gap” or “digital divide.” Lei referenced research that shows that urban youth in the United States often do not have the same access to technology as do their suburban, middle- and upper-class counterparts. To resolve this disparity, she argues that teachers must have the skills and inclination to make technology available throughout the curriculum. Her presentation looked at issues in professional development related to technology diffusion in higher education pedagogy, where students are preparing for careers in teaching.
Sari Knopp Biklen, Laura and Douglas Meredith Professor and chair of the Department of Cultural Foundations of Education, presented a paper titled “The Contributions of Qualitative Methods to Democratic Reform in Education.” In her paper, Biklen observes that, while international teacher education reform efforts call on “evidence-based innovations” to accomplish change, that evidence must include qualitative data gathered from fieldwork and in-depth interviews with informants. She also explains how qualitative methods are a necessary part of policymaking in educational reform and contribute to the empirical base for quality schooling, school reform and professional teacher development. Biklen maintains that, since democratic reforms are more likely to take root than are authoritarian reforms, the contributions that qualitative methods make to educational innovation are significant.
Abstracts of these papers can be found at http://soe.syr.edu/newsevents/abstracts.cfm.
The forum also included a roundtable discussion hosted by Dean Biklen and the School of Education faculty members on the subject of “Higher Education Partnerships with K-12 Schooling: Public Policy and Professional Development for Quality Education.”