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International educators visit ASU's West campus

August 14, 2006

A group of 11 international educators visited Arizona State University’s West campus Aug. 3 to learn more about the College of Teacher Education and Leadership’s successful incorporation of technology into the classroom.

“We were delighted to host this esteemed group of educators and excited to share our information and experiences with them,” said Scott Ridley, professor and director of the Professional Development Schools (PDS) program in the College of Teacher Education and Leadership at ASU’s West campus.

The group was part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership program and the four-U.S. city trip focused on primary and secondary education initiatives in the United States. Included in the group were representatives from 11 Southeast Asian countries, including the People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

“The visit was important not only because were able to share our interactive distance-learning technology, which is unique to all of ASU, but the group’s thoughtful questions have prompted us to rethink our assumptions about distance education,” said Ridley.

ASU’s one-of-a-kind interactive distance-learning technology program features the PDS: TENET (Teacher Education Network of Excellence through Technology), which is in its second semester of delivering courses via distance-learning technology to seven urban and rural K-8 school districts in Arizona. Labeled “Content Academies,” these courses are part of a five-year, $10 million teacher quality enhancement grant housed in CTEL. Ridley was the principal investigator of the grant.

“The graduate-level Content Academies are meant to increase students’ achievement in reading, science, and mathematics by enriching participating teachers’ classroom instruction,” said Ridley. “During the spring 2006 semester, 140 partner district teachers participated in the Content Academies.”

Teachers attend the courses in their districts’ reception rooms that are linked with the distance learning studio at the West campus. Teachers at each site are able to see the teaching team at ASU, the participating teachers at the other sites, and the presentations.  Participants not only learn content this way; they also learn to use embedded technology applications like Blackboard, SMART boards, document cameras, digital video, and numerous web-based resources.

“One of the educators commented that her country has historically sent a number of students to American universities to study,” noted Ridley.  “She wondered if this type of interactive distance learning could be used to offer an American university education to even more students without those students having to leave their country.

“This is true international education in its purest form.”