Magazine article Distance Learning

Technology in Motion: The University of Montevallo's Regional Research and Education Inservice Center

Magazine article Distance Learning

Technology in Motion: The University of Montevallo's Regional Research and Education Inservice Center

Article excerpt

Introduction

Surrounded by computers and other portable devices such as video games and smart phones, adolescents in today's society spend more time surfing the Web, building Web sites, communicating through instant messaging, wikis, e-mails, and writing blogs than they do watching television. Administrators and teachers must continue to reach this generation of students and employ them with twenty-first century skills. In order to do so, teachers need to be adequately trained to facilitate courses with technologically advanced students. Improvement of teaching is not simple, but it remains a demanding task. Grabe and Grabe (2004) stated, "Thinking about the future is important for educators. And preparing students for that future requires some consideration of the skills that students will need and the rapidly evolving role of technology in educational practice," (p. 2). The research literature on educational technology has identified a number of important contextual factors that influence how technology is implemented in educational settings. The Education Development Center discovered teacher participation in quality professional development, teachers' access to technology, and pedagogical beliefs influence teachers' use of technology and their instructional practices (Martin & Shulman, 2006). For the purpose of this article, technology professional development for educators in a K-12 learning environment is examined at the University of Montevallo's Regional Research and Education Inservice Center. The University of Montevallo is Alabama's Public Liberal Arts University.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Professional development is designed to prepare and support educators to help all learners achieve high standards of learning. The mission and principles of professional development are summarized in Table 1 (Goals, 2000).

The University of Montevallo's Regional Research and Education Inservice Center expands on these exemplary professional development characteristics by meeting the needs of practicing teachers and administrators. Through numerous workshops and training sessions provided by the Inservice Center, practicing professionals acquire content knowledge, skills, and techniques that enable them to move from novice to expert. The sessions meet National Staff Development Standards through programs that are rigorous, datadriven, research-based, intensive, and ongoing. Established by the Alabama legislature in 1984-1985, the University of Montevallo's Regional Research and Education Inservice Center is one of 11 centers providing professional development to K-12 educators in designated public school systems. The Inservice Center implements and facilitates statewide initiatives such as National Board Certification Training, Alabama Leadership Academy, Alabama Science in Motion, Alabama Technology in Motion, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, as well as Alabama Reading Initiative. In this article, Technology in Motion is examined.

TECHNOLOGY IN MOTION

The Alabama State Board of Education identified eight critical areas in which the University of Montevallo's Regional Research and Education Inservice Center could provide professional development. One of the eight areas needing improvement was technology. In order to address this need, Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. J. B. Morton worked to create Technology in Motion (TIM), which became Alabama's initiative for free technology professional development for educators. Technology In Motion (n.d.) provides:

job embedded professional development for teachers to promote the use of technology in teaching and learning. The program offers services, materials and training that support teachers7 professional growth in effective teaching practices, the creation of technology rich learning environments and project based learning, (n.d.)

Alabama's technology initiative presents materials, services, and training that sustain teachers' professional development in effective teaching practices as well as to create a foundation for technology-rich learning environments and project-based learning. …

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