Have laptop, will teach
Students will mentor teachers in learning technologies
by Michelle Cook, staff writer
UBC student teachers will reverse a long-standing tradition when
they head off to Lower Mainland-area schools next term by bringing
apples to their students, only their apples won't be crisp and red.
The 36 teachers-in-training from the Faculty of Education's Fine
Arts and new Media in Education (FAME) group will be toting sleek,
new Macintosh Apple iBook computers with wireless capabilities to
their practicum classes. The laptops are part of a leading-edge
initiative to integrate technology into teaching and learning.
The goal of the pilot project, the first of its kind in B.C.,
is to explore how to get teachers and students using technology
in a creative, integrated way.
"This project is not about learning to push a mouse -- with laptops
the possibilities are endless," says Assoc. Prof. Peter Gouzouasis,
who is leading the pilot with strong support from Education Dean
"FAME is preparing teachers to lead the way in implementing creative
applications of new media and fine arts, as well as in developing
content and teaching strategies for other subject areas. The only
limit is imagination."
With the laptops provided to them by the Faculty of Education
Faculty, FAME student teachers will have a wireless connection to
their students, other teachers, and a world of Internet-based resources.
The portable computer will free them from their desks to prepare
and give multimedia lessons no matter where they are.
This term UBC students have been preparing to be technology mentors
to the teachers they will be working with in area schools -- a key
component of the project.
"A lot of teachers aren't familiar with technology," says Barbra
Leigh, a sessional instructor from the Burnaby School District who
helped implement the wireless pilot with Gouzouasis.
"They're looking forward to our student teachers' visits and the
opportunity to learn from them about technology and the rich teaching
possibilities it offers."
Even with the enthusiastic response from teachers, Leigh admits
there are challenges for the FAME student teachers to overcome.
These include breaking down traditional ideas of how children should
learn and how technology should be integrated across the curriculum.
At least one FAME student, Davina Soumang, sees her role as that
of trailblazer at a time in history similar to when society gained
widespread access to books for the first time.
"Just as that was revolutionary, the introduction of computers
is revolutionizing our society," Soumang explains.
"If we're going to teach children to lead society, we need to
understand the technology, how to use it and how to integrate it."
While FAME student teachers are currently the only ones involved
in Education's wireless teaching pilot, several other groups will
join in a partial capacity in the new year, says Gouzouasis, who
would like to see it eventually become part of entire teacher education
program at UBC.