By Andy Goodell
Baker Digital Teacher Project promotes tech-savvy teachers
As technology’s role in the classroom continues to evolve, the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center encourages pre-service teachers to move ahead of the curve by requiring professional development focused on using technology in a K-12 classroom in a purposeful way.
This spring, thanks to the generosity of alumnus Linda R. Baker (BA ‘68), approximately 100 newly-admitted Teacher Education Program students received Google Chromebooks. The Baker Digital Teacher Project is the first of its kind, giving Chromebooks to every teacher preparation student and requiring them to complete the Level 1 Google Educator Certification prior to their student teaching experience.
Kari Vogelgesang (BA ‘01/PhD ‘15), director of professional development at the Baker Teacher Leader Center, says the aim of the project is to equip pre-service teachers with opportunities to access whichever device is currently being used the most in K-12 schools. This best prepares them for the class-rooms where they will teach and is based on best practices.
“Chromebooks make up well over half of U.S. classroom devices,” says Vogelgesang. “We have to be responsive to what’s happening right now in our schools.”
Will Coghill-Behrends, director of projects and partnerships at the Baker Teacher Leader Center, adds, “We are excited to put this technology in our teachers’ hands, and more excited to re-search the ways in which this will impact their development as teachers, and their experience in our programs.”
It is important for newly-admitted students in the program to be immersed in technology that is being used in classrooms as soon as they enroll at the college. This early immersion helps students become familiar with the technology, allows them to use it in their own studies, and helps them to incorporate it into their practicum and student teaching experiences later in their collegiate careers.
Students will participate in one required workshop introducing them to the device and will learn how to use Chromebooks in their own classrooms. More than 10 workshops related to the device are being offered during the Spring semester.
“Students from the University of Iowa College of Education have always been known for their abilities with respect to technology, and we’re continuing that tradition with the next iteration of this project,” says Coghill-Behrends.