New Jersey’s Educational Technology Training Centers (ETTCs) are providing the state’s teachers and administrators with hands-on, high-quality training in how to combine technology with classroom instruction. The 21 ETTCs in the state, funded through Federal Goals 2000 legislation, have built a curriculum since 1997 that is now paying real dividends across the state, course recipients say.

The largest of these programs, the Camden County ETTC, trained more than 5,400 teachers and staff in its first two years. The course itself utilizes technology extensively, as its students have access to 1,500 computers spread across the county and can use either those computers or any others to access their work. Each student’s coursework is personalized to meet his or her needs and current level of skill. And with a centralized network handling the courses and tracking students’ work, the system is actually quite efficient to run: Only six employees are needed to manage the computers, servers, and software.

Despite receiving initial funding from a federal program, New Jersey officials have been aggressive in soliciting corporate support. During the 1997-98 school year, American Telephone Wiring, Apple Computer, Banyan, Compaq, Evertech, Garden State Cable, and 3Com donated about $100,000 in computer-related materials and other services. Now, the program is going a step further by supplementing corporate support with workshop fees, grants, and in-kind support from school districts to make the program completely self-sufficient.

For their part, corporate representatives say they appreciate the opportunity to work with ETTC directors in planning courses and designing the training facilities.

Training—such as a course designed for district superintendent—is also available for school administrators and support staff. A course was even developed (in conjunction with Rowan University) to help liberal arts students pursue New Jersey’s alternate route to teacher certification.

The director of the Camden County ETTC program suggests that making the courses available on weekends, evenings, and in the summer has enabled many teachers to attend without disrupting the school day.

Media Specialists Should Take Charge in Improving Technology Education

abstracted from “Staff Development: Your Most Important Role” by Mary Alice Anderson

Multimedia Schools, January/February 2000

http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/jan00/an derson.htm

Through a more proactive approach to organizing and even teaching tech-ed courses, media specialists can put themselves at the forefront of improved use of technology in the K-12 environment, the author says.

The author suggests that media specialists begin by familiarizing themselves with the nature of the problem, and she recommends reading the “CEO Forum Report” (available at http://www.ceoforum.org). The report states that only about a quarter of K-12 schools are using technology effectively, and it lays out some general strategies for improving use of technology in the classroom. The report emphasizes that teacher training is the base for improved performance, and that cooperative arrangements with businesses can help students see the applicability of their training to the working world.

Once familiar with the overall circumstances of technology education, media specialists can apply various techniques to their particular school districts. The author suggests the following:

• Participating in all tech-ed planning meetings, as well as informal discussions with teachers;

• Working with administrators to create hands-on courses, not just more lecture-style courses;

• Utilizing online courses (such as the Apple Learning Interchange, http://www.apple.com/education/k12/ staffdev) to supplement classroom exercises;

• Making sure that technology staff development is considered part of all initiatives to improve student learning;

• Promoting mentoring programs led by teachers skilled in technology usage; and

• Finding and promoting a “best practices” model for the use of technology.

The author also says that offering shorter courses with a particular focus or theme is more valuable than adding additional generalized technology courses. This will help teachers understand how to implement technology to achieve a specific goal—for example, meeting state proficiency standards for students graduating from a grade level.

With a well-rounded program and convenient times at which courses are offered, media specialists can appeal to a wide range of school system employees, including substitute teachers, office staff, and parents. This will help further diffuse technology savvy throughout the system and down to the students.