Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When it comes to the way future teachers learn, staying tech-savvy is crucial.

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 got their hands on 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 prepares them to be leaders in their future school districts. 

UI College of Education students in the Teacher Education Program become fluent in Google’s G Suite for Education, a leading-edge way of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration software and products. One great example of this widespread use is in the fact that 80 percent of students in Chicagoland schools regularly use G Suite for Education. 

“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.” 

Pursuing their passion 

Teaching runs in the family for Nora Tucker, one of five members of the University of Iowa College of Education’s first cohort of Dean’s Scholars. This program is supported by a generous gift from Linda R. and Dale Baker. Kelsey Wells, Jessica Battani, Rachel Dunn, and Elizabeth Boksa received this substantial scholarship, as well. 

“This scholarship helps me pursue something I am extremely passionate about and follow the example of my greatest role model, while also providing me with the resources and experiences I need to become successful and involved in the College of Education,” says Tucker. 

Dean’s Scholars work hard to earn this distinction. They must have at least a 30 ACT and a 3.80 GPA on a 4.00 scale in order to receive the significant $12,000-17,000 scholarship. 

“These students are the best and brightest,” says Nancy Langguth, associate dean for Teacher Education and Student Services. 

Read more from the 2016-17 College of Education Annual Report.