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Education Program Earns National Recognition

June 9, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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The rapid evolution of technology is changing the way classrooms are conducted and has necessitated “moving beyond the traditional model of learning,” according to Marilyn Rice, associate professor in curriculum and instruction.

Sam Houston State University’s master’s degree in technology facilitation has been answering this call since 2007, preparing “facilitators to direct and guide integration of technology for the classroom and 21st-century learners,” said Rice, who is also the program’s coordinator within SHSU’s College of Education.

The online Master of Education program recently became one of only three in the state to receive national recognition by the Specialized Program Association, the International Society for Technology Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

“This recognition sets us apart from other technology programs,” said Marilyn Butler, NCATE coordinator for the College of Education “It indicates that our program is consistent with the ISTE standard for technology facilitation in the classroom."

The Masters in Instructional Technology is an online program designed to prepare individuals in education to facilitate the integration of technology into curriculum.

“I think it’s very forward thinking because we’re preparing the technology facilitators or teachers through this program and those teachers are preparing the next generation of lawyers and doctors and business executives, who themselves are the people that prepare and disseminate information,” Butler said. “It’s a new way of acquiring knowledge and applying it to decision-making.”

Though the program primarily prepares individuals as facilitators of instructional technology in early childhood through college education—who guide districts, campuses, and instructors toward integration of technology—the program also readies people in business and industry to facilitate technology integration as it relates to corporate training and continuing education programs, according to Rice.

The program also produces instructional technology facilitators who are working in a school district, community college, university or business in a support and service role regarding instructional design, assessment of learning/management systems, networking, and assessment/implementation of instructional software.

“Technology is a teaching tool that opens up a whole world of learning opportunities,” Butler said. “Hand-held devises and the Internet become educational tools for the 21st-century learner to answer questions posited by the teacher, as the jumping off point, where you go from finding the answer to having an informed discussion.

“It really creates very active and engaged opportunities for cooperative learning with the students,” she said. “Rather than banning technology, it becomes part of teaching, the discussion, and the application of critical thinking skills.”

The Master of Education Technology Facilitator program not only meets the ISTE standards, which will soon be adopted by Texas as the state standard, but is also consistent with the National Educational Technology Plan of 2010, drafted by the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education.

The plan prescribes “a comprehensive infrastructure for learning to move us beyond the traditional role of educators and students in classroom to a learning model that brings together teaching teams and students from around the world using the Internet,” Butler said.

“The Socratic Method emerges through the use of technology, enabling a form of inquiry between individuals and teams with differing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking skills and generate new ideas,” Rice said.

While the idea of technology destruction once occurred every 18 months, it’s now happening even faster than that, to the point where change is continuous, making it crucial for both universities and public educators “embrace the ever-increasing development of technological tools” and be prepared “to implement them more effectively,” according to Rice.

“This will bolster the success and learning of P-16 (preschool through college-aged) students, strengthen the country’s educational system, and improve the effectiveness of employees in private industry,” Rice said. “Furthermore, doing so will not only increase the quality of instruction and learning, but will also teach students the value of technology both in school and in the workplace.”

“It is in higher education where we can address this need,” she said. “With the exponential growth and advancements in knowledge and technology, this program facilitates the comprehensive preparation of the 21st–century learner.”



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