Campus: CSU San Marcos -- October 21, 2002

Cal State San Marcos Project Encourages Meaningful Use of Technology in the Classroom


A recently awarded grant to the College of Education at California State University San Marcos will help teachers improve use of technology in their teaching, and may encourage some of them to seek National Board Certification.

"The Digital Edge" pilot project is underway at four campuses across the nation, and is funded by Apple Computer, The AT&T Foundation, The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Funded campuses are Cal State San Marcos, George Mason University (VA), Morgan State University (MD) and Louisiana Tech University. The campuses were selected because of their different approaches to teacher education.

At Cal State San Marcos, the project is headed by Dr. Robin Marion, assistant professor of education.

Digital Edge exhibits address technology's role in the classroom and the role of accomplished teachers as models for pre-service and practicing teachers. The project involves design of digital exhibits by National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) who film, edit and construct examples of their teaching practice to be used in coursework and by teachers considering diverse means of connecting curriculum to technology.

Apple has created a web site (http://ali.apple.com) that offers teachers exhibits of best practices integrating technology into teaching. Each exhibit includes video clips of accomplished teachers explaining the needs of their students, using technology to enhance student learning, and reflecting on how lessons progress. Along with the video are links to lesson plans, student work samples, assessment tools, resources, related research and teacher and student reflection. Each exhibit is correlated to national NBPTS and ISTE standards.

Marion explains that Cal State San Marcos has received $37,000 for a pilot program to use the Digital Edge materials in teaching and learning courses in three ways.

  • The materials will be used as a part of the foundation courses of the College's Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Program. Faculty will use the exhibits as common experiences of classroom practice to generate richer discussions about teaching and learning.
  • The materials will factor into the fieldwork experience of student teachers. University supervisors will use the exhibits in conversations with Master and Student teachers as part of the mentoring process and to deepen conversation with student teachers about their practice.
  • Digital Edge will be included in instruction at the Master's degree level. The exhibits will allow a focus on technology infusion that will encourage practicing teachers to connect their curricula to technology in ways that impact student learning.

"We hope to break down some of the barriers such as 'I can't infuse technology because...lack of sophisticated equipment, lack of sophisticated software or lack of training,'" said Marion. "The classroom situations in the exhibits are authentic, and incorporate technology in a diverse array of subtle and explicit applications under classroom conditions and in contexts similar to those Cal State San Marcos pre-service and in-service teachers face. After seeing how other teachers overcome barriers, our teachers say 'Hey, I can do that!'"

The project hopes to see teachers include technology and ideas from the exhibits in their lesson plans and through observation of practice. Marion and her colleagues in the project will look for patterns of use that indicate a transfer of ideas in the exhibits to the classrooms taught by participating student teachers and veteran teachers in Masters courses.

"We want to impact student learning by preparing their teachers using examples of accomplished teaching. We want the teachers to develop a commitment to technology infusion and ongoing efforts to improve their teaching using examples of accomplished teaching," Marion added.

Working with Marion on the project are Kimberley Woo and Candy Singh, COE faculty, and Holly Stipe, NBCT, College of Education Masters student, and student assistant on the Digital Edge pilot.

The pilot project is one of several ways in which the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is focused on improving student learning. NBPTS believes that the single most important action the nation can take to improve schools and student learning is to strengthen teaching.

It has established standards for National Board Certification and has encouraged teachers to undergo the rigorous process to gain certification. More than 16,000 teachers have done so nation-wide, including approximately 183 of the 25,000 teachers in San Diego County.

Teachers who have participated in National Board Certification often report that it is the most powerful professional development experience of their careers. They say the experience changes them as professionals and that through the process they deepen their content knowledge and develop, master, and reflect on new approaches to teaching through careful analysis of their practice and student learning.

Application fees for Board certification are $2,300, a portion of which can be paid through scholarships from some school districts and the state of CA. Certification is good for 10 years, and can be renewed. Teachers become certified in one of about thirty areas specific to the age of children they teach and in some cases in particular content areas. Information on the process is available at www.nbpts.org <http://www.nbpts.org>.

Dr. Marion can be reached at 760-750-8537 or rmarion@csusm.edu


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