Envisioning a "technologically infused future" for Maryland's classrooms from kindergarten through the 12th grade, the Graduate Division of Education in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop programs that will prepare teachers for using technology to enhance the learning experiences of tomorrow's children.
Using the grant money, GDE and the Center for Technology in Education, a 13-year-old partnership between SPSBE and the Maryland State Department of Education, will lead a consortium composed of Maryland Public Television; Hopkins' Professional Development and Partnership schools, many in districts with high percentages of disadvantaged children; and 20 business partners. They will work to integrate complete competence in technology into the courses now given to student teachers in GDE's Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Science in Special Education programs.
"The challenge is not only to prepare large numbers of teachers with traditional pedagogical skills but also to prepare them to teach with technology," says Jacqueline A. Nunn, chair of the Department of Technology in Education and director of the Center for Technology in Education.
It is expected that the state's schools will need 11,000 new teachers by 2001, given the fact that 52 percent of Maryland's current teaching force will become eligible for retirement by 2003. Recognizing the growing impact of technology on all aspects of society, as well as its potential for improving the learning experiences of countless students, the state Department of Education is committed to a systematic redesign of teacher education programs, according to Nunn. The aim is "to ensure that newly certified teachers are able to integrate technology effectively in their teaching techniques to improve student learning," she said.
"GDE is well aware of both the difficulty in bringing about major change in the training of teachers and the urgency of doing so," Nunn said. In fact, two years ago, the division created a Technology Task Force to increase technology infusion in all its teacher preparation programs, she noted.
Now, in applying for the federal grant--formally called a Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology Implementation Grant--Nunn and Ralph Fessler, director of GDE and interim dean of SPSBE, said the money would be used to implement a dozen strategies designed to improve the technological component of Hopkins' teacher education programs.
Among the strategies will be one for establishing technological performance standards for aspiring teachers, a process already pioneered during the 1998-99 academic year in GDE's Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Other strategies include a collaboration with MPT to develop a video library that will demonstrate and encourage the use of technology in K-12 education; creation of an instructional TechNovations Lab, a resource and production center for use by GDE faculty and students; and procedures for delivering major components of GDE courses online.
GDE and CTE's corporate partners, including National Geographic, ClassroomConnect and The Learning Company, have pledged to support the TechNovations Lab by supplying it with more than $1.2 million worth of software and other materials, Nunn said.
In addition, although GDE still "firmly believes that face-to-face interaction is very important in any online learning endeavor," Nunn said, "as faculty develop increased comfort and familiarity with technology, GDE will begin to move from posting syllabi online to delivering a significant amount of content in some courses through telecommunications technology."
GDE also plans to establish and sustain InternNet, an electronic learning community to support teaching interns and first-year teachers.
"The InternNet is a particularly important aspect of the program because it draws interns and first-year teachers into a community of learners who share techniques, strategies and successes, and incorporate emerging technology into their own teaching techniques," Nunn said.
The $1.5 million federal grant is the third large grant GDE has received this year. Earlier, it joined with Towson University in a successful application for a $10 million grant, spread over five years, to enhance the professional development of teachers throughout the state. Another $1.5 million grant is funding the GDE's involvement with the Maryland Technology Academy, which was created in 1998 to hold a three-week summer institute for 120 teachers and a two-day symposium for 40 administrators to further the integration of technology into the core of the state's K-12 curriculum.