Students in Mary Baldwin University’s teacher education programs will learn how to effectively incorporate mobile technology into classroom instruction, thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation through a program of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. The grant will cover the cost of two mobile technology labs consisting of several iPads and other technology support equipment.
One hundred fifty students in the undergraduate education and Master of Arts in Teaching programs will make use of the technology over the next two years, beginning in spring 2013, as part of the project, titled Authentic Mobile Learning: Using Technology to Create Engaging, Relevant, and Personalized Learning Experience.
Associate Professor of Education Tamra Willis applied for the grant to better prepare tomorrow’s teachers for the latest learning styles unfolding in K–12 education. In her grant proposal, Willis described a "digital divide" between students, who are already comfortable with mobile technology and using it with increasing frequency as a learning tool, and teachers, who are less familiar with these devices and have to adapt to changing trends in effective classroom instruction.
Willis strives to bridge the gap by providing future teachers with educational tools that will resonate with today’s students. "We are excited about the opportunities this project will provide for our pre-service teachers," she said. "Not only will they learn strategies for integrating technology into the curriculum, they will also get to try them out with K–12 students during internship experiences in the schools."
Education faculty will also incorporate Thinkfinity.org, Verizon’s online professional learning community, into work for select, participating courses. The site will familiarize pre-service teachers with K–12 teacher resources including blog posts, discussion boards, webinars, and educational games.
Pre-service teachers will be expected to:
- Use iPads to communicate, research, and plan K–12 curriculum
- Work with peers to develop iPad-based lessons and activities
- Present at least one lesson using iPads to K–12 students during their practicums
- Include Thinkfinity.org ideas and activities in at least one assignment per course
In preparation for project implementation, Willis will work with an Apple training specialist and colleagues Rachel Potter, director of Graduate Teacher Education, and Beverly Riddell, coordinator of instructional technology, to train faculty on iPads.
Education faculty and a Virginia Department of Education representative will host a professional development workshop for faculty, education students, and local teachers on how to enhance classroom instruction through resources on Thinkfinity.org.
"The iPads and other resources, along with the technology training from Apple, should help advance Mary Baldwin’s education goals beyond the two-year life of the project," Willis said.