In recent months, studies showing that technology training for teachers hasn’t kept pace with its expansion into the classroom have become commonplace. But three states in particular–Pennsylvania, Idaho, and South Dakota–have developed creative solutions to counter the problem.
Pennsylvania has awarded nearly $2 million in grants to spark the development of online professional development resources for educators. With funds from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, one-third of Idaho’s public school instructors will learn about teaching with technology in the next three years. And South Dakota is offering a free internet file server as incentive for administrators to attend the state’s Technology for Teaching and Learning Academy this summer.
The Pennsylvania grants, totaling $1.8 million, were given to eight colleges, intermediate units, and private education institutions to create high-quality, web-based professional development programs to assist teachers in implementing the state’s new academic standards.
“We are working to use new technologies, such as CD-ROM and the web, to deliver training, given the geographic size of Pennsylvania and the travel that is often required for training,” said John Bailey, director of the state’s Office of Educational Technology.
Pennsylvania’s new academic standards, which went into effect in January, outline what students should know by the end of grades three, five, eight, and 11. Student and school progress will be measured with state assessment tests aligned with the new standards. Technology standards, which are under review by the state board of education, will also be included.
Grants were awarded to projects using technology to expand teacher access and create permanent electronic resources for professional development. Penn State University, for example, received $67,000 to create a “virtual workspace” for teachers to plan, develop, share, and publish standards-based instruction. Berks County Intermediate Unit received $200,000 to create a web site that incorporates lessons, assessments, units of instruction, and training materials.
Idaho, meanwhile, will use part of an $80 million grant from the Albertson Foundation to launch a three-year Teaching with Technology initiative. By the end of the project, more than a third of the state’s teachers will have received technology training.
The state has partnered with Human Code, a Texas-based interactive technology company, to provide the training. The program includes a week-long summer session with teachers, a peer review during the school year, and a showcase of successful practices during the summer of 2000.
Besides training, the project will provide at least 30 new high-tech classrooms in schools across the state over the next three years. These “model classrooms” will serve as hubs for a sophisticated videoconferencing network that will be used to deliver the training and will also be available for use during the school year, according to David Palumbo, Human Code’s vice president of learning technologies.
The first workshops in the Teaching with Technology series will kick off with 900 teachers in 15 locations by the end of June. Human Code will design and build the high-tech classroom environments, which will be located within existing elementary, middle, and high schools in each region of the state.
Not to be outdone, South Dakota will run its own teacher training sessions this summer. When school starts next fall, South Dakota’s Technology for Teaching and Learning Academy–now in its third year–will have trained more than 2,000 of the state’s 9,000 classroom teachers.
As an incentive for school leaders to participate in the training, Gov. Bill Janklow promised that all schools sending an administrator to the academy in Rapid City this summer will receive a new file server for their districts, courtesy of the state.
Savvy school leaders, coupled with the completion of a statewide school wiring program in the next few months, will give South Dakota the tools for success in the next century, Janklow said.
“That’s when things get exciting,” he said. “Where we have always trailed the world economically, we don’t have an excuse in the world that starts in 2000.”
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Idaho Department of Education
J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation
South Dakota Home Page