PBS, UMD and Proctor School to collaborate with help from grant

As the world is thrust into continuous technological advances, students in the public school system are often left behind, having to wait until college or later to learn how to fully utilize modern technology.

As the world is thrust into continuous technological advances, students in the public school system are often left behind, having to wait until college or later to learn how to fully utilize modern technology.
Three local agencies are ready to prepare K-12 students and teachers for the present and the future.
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded PBS Eight a TeacherLine grant for $150,000. The purpose of the grant is to form a partnership between education and nonprofit agencies to integrate technology and learning into K-12 classrooms.
The three local agencies involved include PBS Eight, the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) and the Proctor School District.
"There's just a world of resources from these three agencies," said Dan Corbett, director of Lifelong Learning at PBS Eight and author of the TeacherLine grant proposal. Corbett is also an adjunct faculty member at UMD.
Corbett said using technology in the classroom is expensive, especially with current funding restraints imposed on K-12 education. The grant offers technology education money that normally is not available.
"Area organizations that have the capabilities to help need to step up to the plate and help," he said.
PBS Eight was one of six stations across the country chosen for the TeacherLine grant. TeacherLine is a Web site developed by PBS that is a comprehensive and professional teaching tool for college instructors and teachers.
Through this grant, Proctor teachers can access the Web site and go through learning modules at their own pace. The "video rich, learn-by-doing" modules guide teachers toward integrating technology into the classroom.
The teachers are then required to apply what they've learned and give a report to evaluate the modules' effectiveness and how they're being used.
"It opens up a whole universe of possibilities," Corbett said.
UMD's involvement in the project includes giving teachers access to its Educational Computing and Technology Certificate program. This offers hands-on, basic through advanced training in computer and related technologies.
Two out of four courses will be available through the grant: The Computer in Education course and Teaching with Technology course.
"We have a high capacity of teaching technology and education here," said Paul Deputy, dean of Human Service Professions at UMD.
He added that UMD has a high rate of faculty participating in using technology for education. UMD recently landed a $3 million grant called "Arrowhead Preparing Teachers for Tomorrow's Technology," for example. The grant has six collaboratories made up of teachers, college students and UMD faculty to create technology projects and apply them to K-12 classrooms.
Deputy said a workshop he developed will be integrated into the grant project as well. "Tackling the Technology Tiger" helps teachers reach a "middle level" in technology education.
Deputy said he is "wildly enthusiastic" about the grant project's potential.
"It's a chance for us to do something with another public agency in the area, and we have a mission of educating teachers in terms of technology and learning." Deputy said the grant project is one way of delivering that mission.
The grant money will be divided between the three agencies over the next four years. Each agency is required to develop an interactive Web site, accessible through UMD's site, to inform the community of what's being done in terms of the grant.
Based on how successful Proctor is as a model, the challenge will be how to translate the project to surrounding school districts.
"My intent is to go national with this," Deputy said. "I think we have a good team to pull this off."
The grant project could change how teaching and learning occur in the classroom. Rather than the teacher acting as the primary source of knowledge, students will gain skills needed to access information on their own.

Sandi Dahl is a news reporter for the Budgeteer News. To reach her, call 723-1207 or send e-mail to .
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