By Tim Leeds
Montana State University-Northern is working on establishing a partnership with area schools that goes beyond teaching education majors how to teach, PT3 Grant Coordinator Jonathon Richter said.
Richter said the current capacity building phase of the grant (Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers for Technology) teams the university with area schools to research how to best prepare pre-service teachers to use technology in the classroom.
The university is partnered with the Havre Public Schools, St. Jude-Havre Central and the Golden Triangle Curriculum Consortium, he said.
"They have experienced teachers who know how to engage students with curriculum in a variety of ways, and we are working to create technology-enriched student teachers here at the college who can help those schools increase their capacity to use some of these new tools," Richter said.
Richter said a goal of the grant is to create a permanent learning community. MSU-Northern's goal is to take this concept literally and break down the organizational barriers that prevent communication, he said.
Richter said they are asking the schools how an MSU-Northern student teacher could best serve their learning community when the pre-service teacher comes in; what they are missing, what the schools wish the student teacher could do with technology.
Richter said they envision doing this in three ways: they want to re-engineer their teacher preparation program to infuse technology throughout the teaching and learning experience; create new partnerships that extend beyond the walls of the institution; and by encouraging a model of professional development that is continuous, non-threatening, and future focused.
One project planned is the creation of a webpage accessible through the Vande Bogart Library at the university, Richter said.
"This resource would index a host of education resources," he said, "from searchable web sites to web site construction tools, professional organizations to project-based learning strategies."
Richter said Brent Roberts, media reference librarian at the university, has been helping create the Northern Montana Professional Educator's Webpage. He said he hopes this resource will be available soon.
Another project is to purchase multi-media carts that can be checked out and taken on the road to area schools and increase their technical capability, Richter said. These carts will also be used to create integrated media experiences of local area businesses, historical landmarks and local sites of interest, he said.
He said this could be used as a "virtual field trip". While not every student in the area can participate in every on-site activity, he said, the multi-media carts could be used to present what one group sees and discovers to other students that could not participate.
Richter said a third project is to work with the MSU-Northern faculty to find how they are currently using technology and how to improve its use, and to identify tools which will better allow the teachers to identify where their students are and how to better help them.
Richter said part of writing the second part of the grant includes showing a partnership with the community in the search to integrate technology in teacher education.
He said they welcome input from the community for help in making and maintaining improvements in the program. He said this help will go both directions since they can provide free training in technology for area organizations and businesses.
Richter, who is working on his doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in technology, is a graduate of the University of Montana-Missoula with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a masters of education in educational leadership.
Richter can be contacted at 265-3781, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.