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TC is Awarded More than $1 Million to Train New Teachers to Use Technology

In June, President Clinton announced in his weekly radio address the award of $43 million to fund 122 new grants to train teachers to use technology effectively in the classroom. "The ultimate purpose of computers in the classroom is to boost student performance and help children learn," said President Clinton.

TC was one of 122 grantees and it will be using its 3 year grant of $1.150 million to integrate technology into its teacher preparation programs through its project, Technology Partners.

Funded under The Preparing for Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology program, the 122 new grantees are joining forces with more than 900 partners across the country, including colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, community-based organizations, and technology companies.

In addition to this project, TC is also a partner in a second Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology grant. Ellen Meier, Co-Director of the Center for technology and School change, with partner schools and colleges from around New York State, has received a three-year Catalyst grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Working with educators from Yonkers, Buffalo, Syracuse, and the State Education Department in Albany, this project will collect data to study the implementation of technology in urban school districts.

Dr. Howard Budin, Co-Project Director and Director of the Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC) Project, whose charge is to help schools to integrate technology into their curricula and daily lives, spoke to the importance of the grant. "We believe that technology should be part of the curriculum in ways that emphasize active student learning, collaboration, interdisciplinary learning and problem solving in areas that are meaningful to the schools."

Centers and Institutes within the College, such as the Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC), and the Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT) work widely with area schools to help them integrate technology into curriculum. However, the use of technology has never been an integral part of Teachers College's pre-service programs.

To meet the goals of the project, the plan is to include workshops on technology competencies, technology project courses leading up to teacher certification, and online forums to discuss students' experiences with technology. Faculty will also receive one-to-one assistance from Teachers College staff and workshops geared to their needs.

CTSC, Academic Computing, and the Milbank Memorial Library have specific roles in the project. George Schuessler, Co-Project Director and Manager of TC's Academic Computing, said his area looks forward to developing and conducting workshops for pre-service students in five areas: word processing and publishing; spreadsheets and data software; email and the Internet; graphics and multimedia, and Web creation.

Integral to the entire project is the placement of pre-service students in technology rich environments and to support TC faculty. "We want to be certain that our students will be placed in schools where technology is used by enriching the pool of available placements. Our four school consortium partners (School Districts 3, 5, 6, in New York City, and the Yonkers, New York schools) are all districts with which Teachers College technology centers have been working. Teachers in partner schools will work with our students, and participate in online forums and TC courses," Budin said.

To support what the College calls the "school experience," it is intentionally moving from school placements where there are few technology-ready classrooms to ensuring that all student placements are in technology-ready classrooms, with teachers who use technology.

Budin knows that "training" teachers in a variety of technological skills has by itself proven of limited value. What he looks forward to is a constructivist approach to learning.

"New technologies are powerful tools with which students can construct their view of the world, make sense of the world, and act upon it. They should help students become collaborative problem solvers who can communicate with one another and students around the globe. Our work with technology is based on this approach."

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