A C I F I C L U T H E R A N U N I V E R S
I T Y
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Education students integrate
technology into the classroom without losing the human touch
By Drew Brown, Editor
School of Education
students collaborate while notes are recorded on a PLU-provided
Kyle Shanton, a faculty member in the PLU School
of Education, rolls a gargantuan red Radio Flyer wagon behind
him, with all usual supplies for an elementary school classroom:
pencils, pens, crayons, books, paper, ruler, glue, CD-ROM disks,
an Apple iBook laptop with wireless connectivity to the Internet.
Educators have often worried that technology will depersonalize
the essence of teaching, which is human interaction.
Education, meet Matthew Barritt and
his colleagues. Barritt is one of many in the PLU School of Education
who have helped develop the department’s continuing goal of technology
integration. Students in PLU’s School of Education are developing
as skilled users of technology in large measure because of alumnus
Diana Pederson ’83. Pederson gave a generous gift to the School
of Education that funded much of the equipment that puts students
ahead of the curve. It also allowed for the creation of the Pederson/Stein
Technology Enhanced Classroom—in honor of her grandfather, Arne
Pederson, and Lynn Stein, faculty emeriti in the School of Education.
The learning starts where, on this
day, Matthew Barritt is teaching a software program called Inspiration.
An unusual compatibility snafu won’t allow Barritt to project
his computer’s image up on the screen. The solution? Hook up the
digital camera, point it at the computer monitor, and project
that. Barritt doesn’t miss a beat. What started as a software
demo has become a lesson learned.
"Don’t kick yourself when things
don’t go right,” Barritt says to his students, “this can be hard.”
Inspiration allows students to
“idea map”—the old fashioned concept of starting from one idea,
and branching off. Idea mapping takes on a different dimension in
computers: ideas can be changed, moved, and further text can be
written off screen. Instead of the software being the lesson, it
becomes a tool for students to brainstorm educational concepts.
They then can take Inspiration into their own classrooms.
discusses educational concepts in a small group workshop.
Students move into small groups in
different rooms—each group recorder carrying an iBook. While the
mapping is done, students jump out of their seats over to the
monitor, pointing at the screen, interacting with each other—learning
the software while molding ideas. At times, the iBook is the center
of attention, but mostly, the collaboration is what takes center
Barb Pixton ’01 was initially reluctant
when it came to technology, but now sees its potential. “Technology
opens up so many doors,” she said. “Students who were hesitant
to share opened up with e-mail.”
Jenn Smith ’01 and Jenn Griffin ’01,
students in Barritt’s Media & Technology (K-8) class, took on
the responsibility of facilitating technological communication
between Spanaway Jr. High students and teachers. “Discussion on
computers toned down the formality,” said Smith. “Students felt
more comfortable in sharing their opinions and creating ideas.”
The School of Education emphasizes
analysis of the individual situation—finding out what resources
their school has, and using those resources to improve learning.
“A pen and pencil are ‘technology,
’” Smith added. “Like any tool, it’s important to know how to
use it to benefit your students.”
For PLU’s education students, their
most valuable individual tool may be what they call “electronic
portfolios.” They have been able to use their advanced technological
knowledge to develop extensive teaching portfolios that are put
on CD-ROMs and posted to the Internet.
Electronic portfolios are built to
reflect teacher competency standards and are aligned with the
department’s core values of competence, care, leadership and service.
Lessons they have learned from working with others, challenges
they have had, personal interests, philosophies they have developed
and changed, projects they have completed and lessons they have
taught. This only scratches the surface of what students have
put on their electronic portfolios. Both CD-ROM’s and the Internet
allow enough memory to include large video clips—most have added
personal teaching footage to show evidence in fulfilling the core
values and competency standards.
“Electronic portfolios tell a story
of who students are,” said Barritt, “well beyond their résumés.”
Each is a work in progress—from lessons taught to lessons learned,
from collaboration to individual achievement. Electronic portfolios
show not just a record of accomplishments, but a record of learning
and personal growth.
In the School of Education, the key
is not the technology. The key is using the benefits of technology
to help move forward the very human art of teaching—and the PLU
School of Education is leading the way.