TOWSON – When Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, received a report on the status of computers in the classroom last year, she was impressed to see that 82 percent of Maryland teachers feel comfortable operating computers.
But then, she saw a statistic that shocked her. Of those 82 percent, only 1.8 percent reported using computers regularly in their classes. Somehow, teachers weren’t using what knowledge they had.
“They’re still standing at the front of the classroom with a piece of chalk,” McIntosh said. So she, along with two other delegates from her district, created the Maryland Technology Academy, a program devoted to teaching teachers how to integrate technology into their daily lessons.
Last week, the Maryland State Department of Education announced that Towson University and Johns Hopkins University will team up to develop and provide space for the program, set to begin this summer if the General Assembly approves the program’s $450,000 start-up budget. State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick is confident she will get funding for the program, said Barbara Reeves, spokeswoman for the State Department of Education spokeswoman.
Officials at both schools said they are excited to spread what they know.
“This program is part of our mission to improve the quality of life through teaching and research using technology,” said Jackie Nunn, head of Hopkins’ 10-year-old Center for Technology in Education.
Paul Jones, chairman of Towson’s Department of Reading, Special Education and Technology, said that helping bring technology into public school teaching is an obvious step for him and his colleagues
“I see teachers really struggling with how to integrate technology into their teaching,” Jones said. “And that’s my life’s work, so I’m excited.”
Towson will invite 120 teachers to campus for three weeks this summer. The Baltimore County school is one of the few universities in the state with computerized classrooms large enough for the seminar and with enough dorm space to house teachers from distant counties, Jones said.
Hopkins professors will design the curriculum, with Towson and the State Department of Education collaborating in later stages. Hopkins will take ultimate responsibility for the success of the program, Nunn said.
“Both of these institutions have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with us in the area of integrating technology into teaching and learning,” Grasmick said.
Applications for the program went out last week. Nunn said she is looking primarily for teachers already competent in a variety of computer skills. She does not want novices, she said, because the main goal of the program is to tell teachers how to use what they already know.
Hopkins professors will teach a combination of the best methods they’ve developed and effective techniques from teachers across the state. Nunn said the instruction will focus mostly on basic computer programs and the internet.
“It will be very practical,” she said. “A third-grade teacher will be able to take the lessons we teach and go right back to the classroom and implement them.”
One example is Hopkins’ team-technology learning system, which breaks children into groups and teaches them how to use scientific method and the Internet to investigate complex questions. The method asks children to synthesize different forms of information and take responsibility for their work, Nunn said.
Nunn and Jones both emphasized the importance of finding teachers who can go back to their schools and teach the new methods to their colleagues. The summer institute cannot teach everyone, Nunn said, so for it to work, teachers must become sources of technology information in their schools. -30-