Technology use in teacher training earns national award
The innovative use of technology to help produce more effective teachers in metropolitan Phoenix and across Arizona has earned a prestigious national award for Arizona State University’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL).
CTEL is the 2009 recipient of the Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). This is CTEL’s second AACTE award within two years; the college received the Best Practice Award for Effective Partnerships in 2007.
“Receiving this award is another indication that our efforts in long-distance learning, reaching out to underserved communities, and providing the leadership in education critical to future generations, is working and being recognized for its successes,” says ASU President Michael Crow.
“Our state-of-the-art distance-learning system that helps ASU educators reach high-need and hard-to-reach school children and professionals exemplifies the access, excellence and impact we emphasize at ASU,” Crow says. “Students and faculty are making a difference in Arizona education in ways that reflect the best of the New American University.”
“CTEL faculty members view technology as a valuable tool that can improve teaching techniques in their own classrooms and ultimately in the K-12 classrooms of the teachers they prepare,” says Mari Koerner, CTEL’s dean. “Technology also helps us bring high-quality educational offerings to current and future teachers and school administrators.”
Cutting-edge, two-way video and online distance education techniques are employed in programs that provide high-need school districts with initial teacher preparation and professional development programs.
Interactive video technology brings CTEL’s Professional Development School (PDS) program to locations including Chinle and Douglas. PDS trains aspiring elementary and middle school teachers in low-income, ethnically diverse schools, enabling participants to stay in their communities as they pursue a degree and teaching certificate.
The PDS model has been expanded to teach future special education teachers and to provide leadership training to current and aspiring principals in high-poverty urban and rural districts around the state. Video technology also gives working teachers access to CTEL’s Content Academy, broadening their knowledge base in math, science and reading.
“Using technology as an outreach tool is especially important in Arizona, given the needs of urban and rural districts,” says Keith Wetzel, professor of teacher education. “Metropolitan Phoenix has more than 50 school districts, many of which are so small that they are quite limited in their ability to provide on-site professional development opportunities. Rural districts also struggle with access to professional development, as they tend to encompass large, sparsely populated areas, leaving educators isolated geographically and professionally.”
Early childhood teachers needing to meet the new Arizona certification requirement can do so through CTEL’s online early childhood certification and master’s degree program. This program has proven so popular that teachers in California and other states have enrolled in it.
The “Our Courts: 21st Century Civics” program is an additional example of how CTEL’s technology use extends beyond Arizona’s borders. In partnership with ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, the project is providing a free, interactive online curriculum to engage middle school students in civics from the perspective of the judiciary.
Our Courts builds on the experience CTEL has gained through involvement in the GeoLiteracy Project, founded in 2002 in partnership with the Arizona Geographic Alliance and the National Geographic Education Foundation. This project has produced a collection of 85 online lesson plans based on Arizona content standards in reading, writing and geography.
“A critical component of all of these programs is ongoing assessment,” Koerner says. “We don’t simply assume programs are working; we collect data to assist us in refinement and improvement. It’s a great honor to be recognized by AACTE not just for using technology but for using it in ways that meet the needs of the communities we serve.”
AACTE is a national alliance of 800 educator preparation programs at public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. Information is available at www.aacte.org.
ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership, through collaboration with educational and civic communities, prepares and inspires innovative educators to be leaders who apply evidence-based knowledge that positively impacts students, families, and the community. Visit www.ctel.asu.edu for details.