To encourage and model innovative practices in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students within the college while taking full advantage of the affordances of technology.
The way colleges and universities prepare students for their future professional lives is changing with a need for increased focus on critical inquiry, mental flexibility, and collaborative problem-solving within authentic social situations. Students need advanced digital media literacy skills to successfully meet these challenges. The college needs to develop a plan to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by technologies that will have significant impact within the next 12 to 24 months, such as online learning, mobile technologies and the development and use of open content. Similarly, the college needs to remain flexible to adapt to technologies predicted to have an impact two to five years from now, such as electronic books, simple augmented reality, and gesture-based computing.
As one of the largest colleges of education in the country, our faculty and academic programs cover the full spectrum of human learning and performance. Although teacher education is but a part of the College’s overall mission, it is one of the most critical and we are, rightly or wrongly, often judged by leaders and citizens of the state of Georgia by our efforts here. Consequently, the College will be impacted by national efforts related to educational reform. For example, President Obama has proposed two clear goals for America’s educational system. The first is to dramatically raise the proportion of college graduates from the current level of 39% to at least 60% by the year 2020. The second is to close the achievement gap among K-12 students by leveraging the learning sciences and state-of-the art technology by creating engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences, attributes now commonly grouped under the banner of 21st century learning. This second goal is clearly an important means to achieving the first.
The 2010 National Educational Technology Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2010) outlines five specific objectives to meet President Obama’s two broad goals. Of these, two are particularly relevant to the College:
- All learners will have engaging and empowering learning experiences both in and outside of school that prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.
- Professional educators will be supported individually and in teams by technology that connects them to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that enable and inspire more effective teaching for all learners.
The College is well positioned to become a leader at the state and national level in demonstrating innovative teaching practices to meet both of these objectives. Of course, the College only has an indirect and modest influence on the rate at which public school systems, especially those in Georgia, change to embrace 21st century learning models and other national trends. However, we do control the teaching that goes on within the College of Education and we should embrace the opportunity to model these practices within our own classrooms.
This initiative accepts as a basic premise that state-of-the art technologies offer special opportunities for innovation, even though technology is not and should not be the focus of the initiative. Technology supports teaching and in turn teaching supports or leads to learning. However, the opportunities created by the affordances of technology should not be understated, but instead need to be examined fully.
- Recognize and document forms of innovation that are occurring at the faculty, program, department, and college level.
- Work with faculty to generate ideas, activities, and programs that promote or exemplify innovation in teaching and technology.
- Seek resources to support faculty to acquire innovative teaching and learning practices.
- Help faculty use technology to support and enhance innovative teaching practices.
- Build and develop faculty literacy in new media and technology.
- Help faculty prepare pre-service teacher education students to teach in technology-rich classrooms.