National Louis University Leads Technology Integration in the Classroom
By Robert Schroeder
The lecture hall is virtually silent. The presenter readies her notes and talking points and checks her watch. Just a few minutes before the class is set to begin.
This same scene plays itself out countless times in university classrooms across America. Except in this case, the classroom is devoid of students. In fact, the students attending the lecture are on an entirely different continent.
That scene played out in the first of a series of four webinars produced by National Louis University for the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE), an organization dedicated to leading educational communities in enhancing learning through technology. The webinars focus on professional development for ICE members.
"[Teachers] need access to resources immediately," said National Louis University assistant professor Randy Hanson, Ed.D., the creator of the webinar series. "What is the current trend, what is the current thinking about technology in education, and how can I use that in my classroom tomorrow?"
The webinar series was created to provide teachers with worldwide experts and knowledge that are not accessible on the local or statewide level. The first session, held on October 6, 2010, featured Sharon Peters from the American International School of Mozambique and Dr. Alec Couros from the University of Regina discussing the benefits of establishing and nurturing an online personal learning network.
ICE executive director Dick Marchessault said international perspectives add vital depth to ongoing professional development for teachers.
"They might offer strategies, solutions and insights that may not have occurred to our members, or our members may not have had that experience to try on their own," Marchessault said. "It's the same reason we invite people to our conference; we believe that this provides our members with a richer opportunity to learn."
Unlike in traditional lecture formats, ICE's webinars foster an interactive approach to learning. Participants can submit questions, begin discussions with other participants and access related content that complements the presentation.
"I might throw a question out to the group, and now we have a group thought," Dr. Hanson said. "The collaboration is a way for teachers to build on their own knowledge."
The second session is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 2 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Kelly Mendoza, senior manager of education content and curriculum at Common Sense Media, will discuss tools for implementing media literacy education in the classroom. The final webinar for the 2010-11 academic year is scheduled for May 18, covering the essentials of online learning. National Louis University has been at the forefront of integrating technology in its education programs.
The University's Technology in Education program, run by Dr. Hanson, has received national recognition from the International Society for Technology in Education for providing teacher degree candidate with superior access to technology. The webinar series is another tool to keep National Louis University on the cutting edge of technological integration.
"We want to be frontrunners in education technology and integrating technology effectively for our students," Dr. Hanson said. "I think it is important for us to be out there leading the charge as an advocate for more technology in education, and to do that we need to be bringing in these resources and promoting it to all teachers."
For more information on the ICE webinar series, visit http://www.iceberg.org/professional_development/webinars.