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New Notebook Requirement for Future Teachers

The College of Education has announced a new notebook computer requirement for the Elementary and Kindergarten Education (EKED) and Secondary English Education (SECED ENGL) programs.

By Suzanne Wayne

The College of Education has announced a new notebook computer requirement for the Elementary and Kindergarten Education (EKED) and Secondary English Education (SECED ENGL) programs.  This initiative will provide important opportunities for teacher education students to learn to facilitate meaningful teaching and learning in a variety of settings.

The requirement is part of a new program, titled Exploring Directions in Ubiquitous Computing and Teacher Education (EDUCATE). Juniors who will enter the Elementary and Kindergarten Education (EKED) or Secondary English Education (SECED ENGL) majors in Fall 2008 will be the first to participate in this program.

Orrin Murray who will join the College in January 2008 as a new assistant professor of education will be the director of the EDUCATE program. Murray comes to Penn State from the University of Michigan’s School of Education where he was a post-doctoral fellow. He has an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Michigan. Prior to his doctoral studies, Murray spent over a decade in the personal computer industry with a focus on integrating technology in K-12 education. 

For the past two years, students in the College’s Professional Development School (PDS) have been involved in a pilot program to investigate the benefits of using notebook computers throughout their senior year and while they served as interns in classrooms in the State College Area School District.

EDUCATE is the expansion of the prototype program to include all students in the two academic programs, regardless of where they might complete their student teaching. Many PDS interns have reported very positive learning experiences both in and out of formal classes because of the digital tools they used. 

Students learned how to use and create digital media such as video, audio, and print-based texts. They also were able to collaborate across distance and time efficiently with faculty and peers. 

One student talked about using podcasts “about classical musicians in order to teach my students about the lives and works of these musicians. Previously, I had my students create their own podcasts, so I thought it would be interesting for them to see how someone else put together a podcast related to a completely different subject, and also because I thought it was a quick and fun way for the students to be introduced to the artists.”

After extensive research, the College of Education faculty has determined that students should purchase an Apple MacBook, with Mac OS X, and the iLife suite of software. 

Jacqueline Edmondson, associate dean for teacher education and undergraduate programs in the College of Education explains, “We have determined that this digital toolset will be the best for use in professional development courses and field experiences, for facilitating innovative instructional technology integration in public school teaching, and for equipping graduates to teach in 21st century classrooms throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.”

She continued, “Because the notebook computer is a requirement of the student’s academic program, the expense can be included in student aid calculations of a student’s cost of attendance. Students who are required to purchase a notebook computer who show financial need should be able to use traditional student loan and grant funds to offset the cost.”

The College has determined the following minimum specifications for the required laptop:

  • Apple MacBook
  • 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
  • 120 GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
  • Superdrive 8x (DVD/CD)


Even though the requirement does not take effect until Fall 2008, the College announced this requirement to affected students and their families before Thanksgiving to provide adequate time for students to make the appropriate preparations.

Additional financial information regarding how to secure competitive pricing, sources of financial aid, and additional support resources will be provided on the EDUCATE Web site below.

For more information, contact Orrin Murray at OrrinMurray@gmail.com or Carla Zembal-Saul, Kahn Professor of Education at czem@psu.edu or 814-865-0827, or visit www.ed.psu.edu/educ/educate.