Magazine article Techniques

A Step into the Future

Magazine article Techniques

A Step into the Future

Article excerpt

In the summer of 2000, an opportunity arose to participate in what is known as "The STEP Grant" at the University of NebraskaLincoln. STEP, which stands for Scholarship Technology Education Practice, is a three-year federally funded project. Its aim is to integrate instructional technology skills into the teacher education curriculum in all disciplines. It has proven to be a valuable experience for two postsecondary methods professors-Dr. Connie Anderson, a professor of Business Education, and Dr. Andrew Schultz, an Industrial Technology Methods Professor.

Essentially, these professors were challenged to imagine new ways to incorporate instructional technology into their curricula. It has proven an interesting process. Schultz was quite limited in his appreciation and understanding of instructional technology-despite his early years writing programs in BASIC and FORTRAN-while Connie Anderson was exceptionally well prepared to take advantage of this opportunity; she was already a computer and Internet whiz whose classes frequently lead the campus in the integration of new instructional technology into the curriculum.

As might be expected given the differing levels of experience and sophistication of these two faculty members, Anderson and Schultz developed different and rather unique attempts at integration. They first attended several workshops sponsored by the Teachers College Alumni Learning Technologies Center, which focused on bringing vendors of software and hardware and teaching experts to campus to demonstrate their wares and share their perspectives. Notable among these was Judy Harris, who teaches at the University of Texas in Austin.

During these workshops, a variety of instructional technology uses were demonstrated, critiqued and evaluated. Some of the topics were: conducting successful Web searches, conducting survey research on the Web, evaluating Web sites and Web pages for their pedagogical utility, how to construct successful Web pages, and how to shoot and utilize audio and video for Internet display. Throughout all, the cognitive impact of instructional technology was questioned and examined.

Dr. Anderson chose to work on developing a Web-based distance education methods class. The class was designed to provide an alternate means of certification, and it involved two of the four Teachers College Post-Baccalaureate Certification Programs, the Accelerated Certification Program and Project Experience Alternative Program. The Accelerated Post-Baccalaureate Certification Program (APBCP) was designed to help those who already have an undergraduate degree in business, who are interested in seeking a Nebraska teaching certificate in business education, and who have completed certain basic course work. The Project Experience Alternative is intended to encourage individuals who already have college degrees and several years of related work experience to pursue teacher certification. Students in either of these programs receive teaching certification in 11 months.

Of course there were problems. Dr. Anderson's first problem for both programs was to provide a means for alternative graduate program enrollment. She developed a procedure whereby students were allowed to begin the program in summer, fall or spring semesters.

Second, as the number of students enrolling in the alternate certification programs increased rapidly, more methods classes were frequently needed.

Third, most of these nontraditional students had varying levels of instructional and business technology skills. These students also had not participated in formal field experiences and needed to be mentored in different schools across the state.

Fourth, there was a limited number of business education faculty responsible for course offerings in the traditional undergraduate and graduate programs and the alternative graduate programs.

And finally, Dr. Anderson wanted to offer traditional methods instruction to nontraditional students with varying levels of technology skills. …

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