WMU News

More federal funds to train techno-savvy teachers

Nov. 8, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Getting fourth-graders to take in a movie, go on a scavenger hunt or lead a rescue mission along the ocean floor - without ever leaving the classroom - is all in a day's work for Linda McConnville, a student in Western Michigan University's graduate educational technology program whose creative command of the computer is just what federal grantmakers want to see.

A $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to COATT-the Consortium for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching with Technology-is aimed at making Michigan first in the nation when it comes to preparing teachers to use technology to enhance student learning. WMU is a member of the consortium, a partnership of 17 Michigan colleges and universities, and several K-12 organizations.

"COATT allows our students the opportunity to go further with their technology skills and demonstrate an even greater level of proficiency with their exceptional capabilities," says Dr. Alonzo Hannaford, associate dean of the College of Education

The three-year grant is being channeled through "Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology," a federal initiative intended to improve the quality of preparation given to new teachers before they enter the profession. The COATT money is one of several "catalyst grants" given to projects designed to achieve large-scale institutional change.

The new COATT funding will be used to significantly improve the technology experience students receive during their practice teaching assignments, particularly those students whose assignments are in schools serving low-income children.

For the first time, the Consortium this fall awarded the MCOATT--Michigan Certificate for Outstanding Teaching with Technology--to practicing teachers who are making a difference in their classrooms through the effective use of technology. McConnville, a 25-year teaching veteran who works in the St. Joseph (Mich.) Public Schools, and Jacklyn Inman, a special education instructor in Dowagiac, Mich., are among the recipients. Each is enrolled in WMU's totally online graduate certificate program in educational technology and soon will be publicly recognized by their local school boards.

Previously awarded only to student teachers, the Michigan certificate is the first of its kind in the nation, and is an important credential for those seeking their first teaching jobs. Now it also is a respected professional honor for veteran educators.

Certificate recipients like Inman and McConville must develop exemplary online portfolios that demonstrate how they are integrating technology throughout their teaching. To view Linda McConville's digital portfolio, go to <www.remc11.k12.mi.us/~lmcconvi/mcoatt/Intro.html>; to visit Jacklyn Inman's portfolio, visit <www.remc11.k12.mi.us/~jinman/mcoatt>.

For more information about COATT or PT3 projects at WMU, contact Dr. Howard Poole, professor of educational studies, at (616) 387-6050 or <howard.poole@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 616 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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