EDUCATE encourages students to use technology to expand teaching experience

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Notebook computers are almost as prevalent in college classrooms as paper notebooks and pencils used to be.

College of Education students are learning to transform those computers into a powerful teaching and learning tool through EDUCATE (Exploring Directions in Ubiquitous Computing and Teacher Education).

The mission of EDUCATE is to empower faculty and future education professionals to make critically informed decisions surrounding digital tools that support their teaching, their learning, and their inquiry and scholarship. The goal is to foster an intellectual community where teachers and students reach beyond passive media consumption to become inspired digital producers.

EDUCATE requires junior-level students who are entering the following programs in the college to acquire a notebook computer with certain specifications:

-- Childhood and early adolescent Education (CEAED), PK-4 (offered at University Park, Altoona, Berks and Lehigh Valley) and 4-8 options (offered at University Park only)

-- Secondary English education (SECED ENGL)

-- Special education (SPLED)

-- World Languages (WL ED)

“EDUCATE really has a focus on the aspect of both teaching and learning. Whereas a lot of students have laptops they carry around for productivity purposes, we really try to emphasize not only their own use of the digital tools, but also how they can approach the use of digital technologies when they’re in the classroom themselves teaching and interacting with students,” said Nicole Olcese, the director of EDUCATE.

“There’s a high level of focus on not just what they can do with the tools, but also how they can plan and think about the goals they want to accomplish when they are teaching and how they might just use digital tools to extend and achieve those goals," said Olcese.

Olcese said as more students become immersed in EDUCATE, a wider array of projects, programs and uses has emerged.

“I have learned how to use different applications, such as iPhoto, iMovie and Garage Band. With the knowledge of how to use these tools, I can incorporate technology into my lessons as a teacher as a way to create engaging learning experiences for my students,” said Hannah Nellis, a recent graduate in childhood and early adolescent education with a minor in special education.

“For example, I made a movie through iMovie and could see myself creating videos for my students, or I could teach my students so that they could produce their own movies,” continued Nellis.

As students originate more uses of digital technology, they are sharing their discoveries.

“We have a group of students who call themselves TESLA (Teaching Elementary Science Leadership Academy) who are working with science education faculty. They have weekly meetings where they share what they are doing in their classes and share what they’re doing with their students,” Olcese said. “The lens is focused on science, but they also talk a lot about technology and what they are using in their classrooms.”

That collaboration isn’t limited to students. Olcese has started a student-faculty presentation series called Innovation Talk. For an hour each Friday, students and faculty meet in 201 Chambers to present and discuss interesting uses of digital tools.

Contacts: 
Last Updated June 19, 2014