February 2008 Archives

The Ubiquitous Computing, Telecommunications, and the Science of Learning Study Team held their open meeting of the faculty on Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 2-3:30 PM.

Present at Open Meeting: Jim Nolan (EDLDR/CIFE), Anne Whitney (SECED ENGL/LCS), Leigh Ann Haefner (EKED/SCIED Altoona), David Chase (Advising Office), Rusty Myers (ETC), Dan Thompson (EKED/SSED), Dan Grow (Advising Office), Vince Lunetta (SCIED), Pete Rubba (World Campus), Cole Camplese (ETS), Chris Hoadley (LPS), Orrin Murry (LPS/CI), Kathy Heid (MTHED), Craig Ezzo (Development Office), Suzanne Wayne (Development Office), David Cochrane (ETC), Scott McDonald (SCIED), Carla Zembal-Saul (EKED/PDS/SCIED)
*My apologies to anyone we missed on this list. We reconstructed it after the fact. Please remind us of your attendance and we will add you.

The group reviewed and discussed each of the 4 focus areas that the study team developed. For the purpose of continuing to receive input from faculty, each area has been posted separately with notes from the open meeting. The 4 focus areas are:

1. National Leadership
2. Building Capacity
3. Facilitating Communication
4.  Research, Assessment, and Evaluation

We ask that faculty, staff and students examine the entry for each area and contribute to the conversation by posting comments. We hope to begin drafting our report to the Steering Committee early in March and circulate it for feedback via this blog.

Thanks in advance for your support with this process!
Area 3 - Leverage powerful technologies for facilitating communication among colleagues around both research-based and pedagogical problems of practice.

There is an increasing need to be able to engage colleagues from around the state, the country, and the world in face-to-face, real time communication about research and instructional experiences. External grants applications are often enhanced by inter-institutional research and teaching collaborations. Great potential is recognized in the ability to connect preservice teachers working in urban settings with those in suburban and rural contexts. Also, more robust interactions with teachers and university faculty from countries, such as England and Sweden, where some of our teacher education students complete their student teaching are desirable. The emergence of tools, such as Adobe Connect, iChat AV, Polycom and Skype, have provided ways to connect colleagues across great distances and diverse settings to engage in meaningful conversations and inquiries. This area/goal is aimed at developing expertise within the College about how best to use these tools to facilitate communication among geographically dispersed groups. Maybe we should add something specific about the Penn State system here…

Notes from Open Meeting:
Establishing communication between groups across distance to facilitate supervision and allow students at PSU to access students and contexts that they would not have access to under ordinary circumstances.
Provide dedicated space that would allow faculty and staff to engage in technology supported communications for a variety of purposes. 
We should have capacity to communicate not only in dedicated facilities, but also for individual faculty and staff to communicate in their offices and workspaces.  This could include a set of resources that would be provided to all faculty and staff as part of their provisioning.
This area should include recruitment of students and the ability to stay in touch with our students after they graduate (e.g., EdLion).


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Realizing even a modest level of success in any/all of the aforementioned areas relies heavily on having access to the necessary resources, space, and expertise. If we are to achieve the goal of becoming a national leader in using technology to prepare the next generation of highly qualified school professionals, then our classroom spaces must be transformed to reflect key aspects of 21st Century learning environments. This will require an infusion of technology tools, such as projection devices, real-time data collection devices, and SmartBoards, as well as upgrades to wireless access and internet connection rates throughout the College of Education. Likewise, the success of the capacity-building goal hinges on acquiring appropriate personnel, space, and tools. College connections with ITS and vendors could assist in leveraging tools and expertise to enhance this area.

Notes from Open Meeting:
  • We need to establish trust and collaboration with school districts or other education contexts that will allow for conversations about how technology can be supported across contexts that our students and faculty are working in.  This could happen by organizing a group that includes school personnel and university personnel, both technical and educational to discuss uses of technology across contexts.
  • Strategically consider how to gather resources through grants and contracts that can support technology infrastructure needed for multiple research and teaching projects.
  • We need realistic and dedicated budget lines for this work.
Area 4 – Develop expertise in using technology to engage in meaningful assessment of learners, courses, and programs.

Powerful new technologies are available for engaging in research, assessment and evaluation. Penn State is considering the adoption of tools, such as Digital Measures, to track and report on faculty accomplishments and to assist with the accreditation process. In the College of Education, Educational Leadership and Elementary Education have adopted TaskStream to support the development of electronic portfolios and collect program information. 

Notes from Open Meeting:
  • Frame the issue of assessment as a research issue, not simply assessment. 
  • Assessment frameworks are already in place.
  • Strategically employ student and program assessment in a way that allows for better comparison and data storage and gathering. 
  • The College of Ed should be a leader in the e-portfolio space.  We need to help create a balance between supporting learning and high-stakes evaluation.  

Area 2 - Build capacity among faculty, including field supervisors, to use technology in support of research, teaching, and learning.

While ETC provides a number of technical services for faculty, staff and students, we are proposing an IDEA Studio in which faculty can come together around pedagogical and/or research problems to receive support in the form of professional development, access to specialized tools, etc. The Studio would be staffed by a director and project team, including a designer and/or programmer, who are skilled at communicating and responding to the needs of faculty. The Studio could be housed in 201 Chambers, and create a comfortable, lounge-like atmosphere in which faculty would be welcome to stop in and sample cutting edge tools or speak with a project consultant. The IDEA Studio would expand current efforts associated with the EDUCATE initiative to engage faculty in professional development opportunities designed to connect them with technology tools that support their work.

Notes from Open Meeting:
  • Create a Digital Commons site in the College of Ed, with a green screen and podcasting studio. ETS (Cole Camplese) offered to contribute a liaison for faculty support/development 1-2 days per month.
  • A small number of other Colleges have in-house support for faculty. EMS has the Dutton e-Education Institute. ITS has the Solutions Institute. The focus of these group is on instructional design and e-learning and blended courses. We would address this through the IDEA Studio, but place a clear focus on faculty development/support around problems of practice in research and teaching.
  • Work with ETS to create a fellows program in which faculty can rotate into development roles associated with TLT related projects.

Area 1 – Be a national leader in the application of technology for educating effective education professionals (e.g., teachers, administrators, counselors) for 21st century learning environments.

We acknowledge that the College of Education is well on its way to achieving this goal. Faculty in Mathematics and Science Education have been nationally recognized for their efforts to enhance subject matter learning using cutting edge applications of technology. The Language, Culture, and Society faculty have strong expertise in digital literacy and its implications for schooling.  Secondary English and Elementary Education are implementing the EDUCATE initiative in Fall 2008, which is aimed at integrating powerful tools for ubiquitous computing into teacher preparation settings. Central to this work is the development of electronic teaching portfolios and video analysis of teaching practices. Special Education faculty have been using technology to support outreach and connections to educational professionals in the field.  Counseling Psychology is increasingly integrating digital video into their practices and programs.  Education Theory and Policy, Educational Leadership, and Children's Literature have innovative programs in distance education.  Instructional Systems faculty are examining the educational impact of games, blogging, and information markets, to name just a few digital tools. Clearly the College is well positioned to meet the goal of being a national leader in this area. Success hinges on our ability to make progress in the other focus areas and to access the necessary resources.

Notes from the Open Meeting:
  • We need to maintain areas in which we are currently an making impact.
  • We need to include the Humphrey Fellows Program which has had international impact.
  • We need to keep a broad vision for education professionals, which includes Adult Education, Workforce Education, Corporate Training, etc.
  • Penn State can lead by having a strong research agenda associated with the impact of technology, an area that is currently not strongly connected to research, at least in teacher education.
  • When considering a long-term vision for the College's engagement with technology we should find persistent problems across institutions that could be addressed using technology (e.g., field experience and the challenges associated with orienting students to important concepts during early field experiences).  Similar problems exist in professional development of teachers who do not have the ability to engage in professional development currently because of geographic constraints.

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