Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Technological Innovations Cultivate Human Intellectual Capital and Create Boundless Webs of Influence to Support Student Learning

Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Technological Innovations Cultivate Human Intellectual Capital and Create Boundless Webs of Influence to Support Student Learning

Article excerpt

Technology continues to expand its web of influence to educators who are using technological advances to enhance teaching strategies and understandings of best practices. Cognitive hyperlinks are being configured to broaden and deepen human connections in ways that directly impact teacher and student growth. At The Hill Center in Durham, North Carolina, technology is used to configure and sustain powerful relationships among educators and to provide ongoing professional development.

The Hill Center's outreach initiatives include professional development supports and services for partner school systems in North Carolina and replication sites in Colorado, Switzerland, and El Salvador. Training teachers on national and international levels to provide high quality, evidence-based research regarding instructional practices requires continuous support, communication, and networking systems. The Hill Center's collaborations focus on building capacity and ensuring long-term susta inability through local supports and resources, accomplished through an intensive training and mentoring program that defies the traditional one-stop shop approach to professional development.

Geographical barriers, which can restrict the type and intensity of support, have been virtually eliminated through the innovative use of technology. Video conferencing is used to connect with teachers and administrators at project and replication sites. Teachers who are working toward International Multisensory Language Education Council (IMSLEC) certification through The Hill Center engage in a series of observations over the course of a school year to receive feedback on their performance and to work toward proficiency in implementation of Hill Center methodology. At a pre-scheduled time, a teacher will link to a Hill Center mentor in Durham after setting up a laptop that is configured with the necessary software, video camera, and speaker. The camera and speaker transfer data to the mentor who observes the class from afar, completing detailed observation forms, and providing narrative feedback during the session by using a specially designed database. Immediately following the observation, if teachers are available, the mentor and teacher reflect on the session. Some post-observation conferences occur at later dates and times, when teachers do not have instructional responsibilities. This video conferencing technology provides mentors and teachers with flexibility to connect for formal, real-time observations and coaching sessions.

Mini-workshops based on teacher needs occur throughout the year, as teachers and mentors communicate to focus on areas of need or interest such as reading comprehension strategies, vocabulary instruction, methodology, and multisensory strategies. This technology also allows immediate consultation between Hill mentors and local program and school administrators for additional teacher and student support strategies. Through video conferencing, Hill mentors and educators dialogue about strategies, skills, and content as if they were in the same training room.

Our development and deployment of online coursework based on cutting edge, online learning strategies provides further extensions of professional development. School personnel can engage in courses on phonics, understanding learning differences, study skills, and differentiated instruction from their home sites, accessing coursework at individual or pre-determined paces. As part of The Hill Center Regional Educational Model in eastern North Carolina, 1 1 county school systems can participate in online courses to support district or school professional development initiatives. …

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