Minor gives tools for teaching online
As trends in technology continuously become more advanced, so must a teacher’s education. By providing the latest technology and teaching strategies, BU’s educational technology minor prepares students for an ever-changing field.
Educational technology refers to any kind of technology that is used to improve teaching and learning. Students gain hands-on experience and up-to-date modes of teaching by using advanced technologies, such as interactive whiteboards, webpage construction, Web 2.0 tools and iPads.
The minor has been offered to BU students since 2003. Raymond Pastore, professor of educational technology, proposed the minor in 2001 after deciding that students need advanced technology courses to prepare for 21st century modes of teaching.
A new component, an online teaching certificate, will soon be offered as part of the minor. This will prepare future educators to teach K-12 classes online.
The new program will provide students with a certificate and “a digital badge,” an icon students may include on their personal websites. When viewed by a potential employer, the badge shows the competencies and skills the student has achieved. After final approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the online teaching endorsement can be listed on students’ teaching certificates.
Because undergraduate programs that offer this minor and online program are rare, BU gives students an immediate advantage as more K-12 schools begin to introduce new and advanced technology directly into the classroom, Pastore says.
Michael Ruffini, professor of educational technology, adds, “On top of the many professional responsibilities teachers have, such as planning lessons, creating innovative class activities, administrative tasks, student management, and developing and grading assessments, they are also expected to keep up with the latest technologies which include hardware, software and Web 2.0 tools.”
Faculty within the program keep up with the latest trends in the field of technology as well. “I’m revising the program to reflect the trends,” says Pastore. “Right now, more people are connecting to the Internet using mobile devices. This has a big impact on what schools are doing.”
These programs are increasingly necessary as more schools allow students to bring technology to class and teachers encourage the use of technology at home. By having experience with the latest software and technologies, BU students learn how to handle these new practices and create lessons to suit each situation.
“When our student teachers go out for jobs, they are expected to do the ‘walk and talk’ of technology because they are seen as emerging technology leaders,” says Pastore. “School districts have told us they were amazed at what our students knew. They said they would interview students from other institutions and were amazed at what they did not know.”
“Educators are charged with ensuring that our students have the necessary critical thinking, problem solving and technology skill sets,” Ruffini adds. “Our minor in educational technology and upcoming online certificate program meet new 21st century technological innovations head-on.”
The online certificate program is expected to be offered for both undergraduate and graduate students by summer 2015. For more information, contact Pastore at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ruffini at email@example.com.
By Courtney Dunn ’15