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$1.9 million gift will help teachers use technology

By Ida Lee Wootten

The Curry School's Center for Technology and Teacher Education has received $1.9 million to continue its efforts to infuse technology nationwide in programs that prepare teachers.

The award, given by an anonymous private donor in July, pushes the school over its $14.25 million goal in U.Va.'s $1 billion fund-raising campaign.

In 1997 the center received a $1 million award from the same donor to incorporate technology into teacher-preparation programs. That funding, called the "Impact Initiative" by school officials, has allowed the center to focus on identifying and implementing technology into instruction intended for teaching mathematics and social studies on the secondary-school level.

The new funding, considered the second phase of the initiative, will continue supporting the use of technology in teaching mathematics and social studies, but also will support projects in science and in English education. The additional funding will extend development of materials to middle- and elementary-school levels. It will also allow center officials to establish a network of professional teaching associations to promote policies regarding the use of technology in instruction nationwide.

"The funding is another affirmation of the national significance of the work the center is doing to enhance learning and instruction through technology," said Curry School Dean David W. Breneman.

Established in 1997, the Center for Technology and Teacher Education is a cross-disciplinary group of faculty who design and implement curricula that integrates technologies, such as computers, digital imagery, Internet resources and graphing calculators, into teacher-education programs. Faculty associated with the center, which has received approximately $6 million since its founding, collaborate with their peers at other teacher-education programs nationally and internationally to promote the use of technology in instruction. They also collaborate with U.Va. Arts & Sciences faculty through the Virginia Center for Digital History.

The Curry School has been recognized by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education as a model for integrating technology in its teacher-education program, and it has been the site of several studies of exemplary teacher-education programs, including those conducted by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

The gift will allow the center to continue to identify partner institutions for field-testing and incorporating technology into teacher-education programs. Center faculty have developed an infrastructure to support collaborative teaching efforts that allows faculty at diverse locations, such as Bermuda, to work together. Through conferences, presentations, on-site visits and publications, center faculty are working to build a consensus among the leaders of professional teaching associations in the core subjects. For example, an upcoming National Technology Leadership Retreat, co-sponsored by U.Va.'s Curry School and the U.S. Department of Education, will bring together the presidents of 26 national education associations to identify guidelines for using technology in teacher-preparation programs in the core subjects.

"The second phase of the Impact funding will allow the center to establish a technology and teacher-education policy network," said Joe Garofalo, associate professor of mathematics education, who is center co-director with education professor Glen Bull.

With five national teaching associations and the Education Department, the center will soon launch an interactive online journal, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. "This represents an unprecedented collaboration among the associations and will provide a forum for professional dialogue," said Bull.

Each of the faculty members associated with the center leads efforts to use technology in a specific area. Bull leads the instructional technology area, and Garofalo heads up mathematics education. Randy Bell, assistant professor, leads science education, and Cheryl Mason, assistant professor, social studies education. Zahrl Schoeny, associate professor, supports administrative technologies; Walter Heinecke, assistant professor, evaluation and policy studies; and Jim Cooper, Commonwealth Professor of Education, curriculum and instruction. Cooper also serves as chair of the center's advisory board. Margo Figgins, associate professor of English education, will serve as the center's first faculty fellow.

In addition to working with state and national professional organizations, center faculty are exploring alliances with departments of education in France and the United Kingdom.



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