Campus: CSU Long Beach -- June 10, 2005

Cal State Long Beach Center Receives $248,000 Appropriation from U.S. Department of Education

The Center for Education Technology and Learning at California State University, Long Beach received $248,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to support a project that uses technology-enhanced literacy and studies children and their literacy development.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Robert Berdan, director of the center and a professor in the Educational Psychology, Administration and Counseling Department. “This new funding allows the project to continue to provide services to children and to refine its research agenda on how children learn to read.”

Technology-enhanced literacy in this project, Berdan explained, means a computer-based online multimedia environment for learning. The grant will support continuing research and the continuing development of reading material in an online environment. Working on the project with Berdan are CSULB faculty members Carol Lord (teacher education, linguistics) and Michael Fender (linguistics). Also working on the project is Professor Peter Desberg at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

The center’s primary goal with the new funding is to have a substantial impact on children and their literacy development. “We’ve already seen the impact this project can have,” he said. “Teachers ask, what’s going on? Why are these students reading better? We expect to see more of that. We also expect to learn more about how reading fluency develops and how we can make that process work for all children.”

Berdan credits 37th District Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and her support for the university with finding resources for the appropriation.

“As a former teacher, she has been extremely supportive on education issues,” Berdan pointed out. “She is very concerned about the kids in her district, which stretches from Long Beach to Compton. The center has worked with schools and after-school programs in both cities and we are very grateful to Congresswoman Millender-McDonald for her support.”

One of the project’s most important acquisitions is an eye-tracking camera. “This will allow us to know exactly what the reader is looking at millisecond by millisecond,” Berdan said. “With this camera we can synchronize the progression of what the eye is seeing with the audio record of oral reading. Tracking the way these patterns change will help us to understand just how reading proficiency develops, and how we can facilitate that process. We can, in essence, track information coming into the mind and follow the shifts in timing as that information comes back out as oral reading.”

The camera will help the center understand when children are taking time to understand individual words and when they need time to assemble words into larger meanings. Much of children’s reading time is silent pauses. “We want to know what happens in those pauses,” Berdan said. “Is the child scanning ahead or looking behind? Adults tend to scan ahead; young children tend not to do that.”

The center recently used a combination of literacy and high-tech savvy to kindle interest in Ray Bradbury’s classic science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 as part of the weeklong literacy festival Long Beach Reads One Book. The novel was selected to star in the March community-focused cultural initiative designed to encourage every one in Long Beach to read the same book at the same time. The center worked with the Long Beach Public Library Foundation to put an excerpt of the book online, using Bradbury’s own recorded reading.

Media Contacts:
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, rgloady@csulb.edu
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727, schroede@csulb.edu


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