College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2010 > New Web Site Helps Teachers Use Digital Technology More Effectively

New Web Site Helps Teachers Use Digital Technology More Effectively

Faculty from Penn State's College of Education have launched an online initiative that demonstrates how teachers can effectively use digital technology in elementary school classrooms.

by David Price (October 2010)

University Park, Pa. -- Faculty from Penn State's College of Education have launched an online initiative that demonstrates how teachers can effectively use digital technology in the classroom.

boldt_sml.jpgAs part of the Exemplary Digital Teaching Archive Project (EDTAP), lead investigator Gail Boldt and her colleagues have published a series of video learning materials that feature kindergarten through eighth grade teachers and their students engaged in innovative, project-based teaching and learning facilitated by digital technology.

Closely related to the College of Education's one-to-one notebook computing initiative known as EDUCATE, the videos were created to support pre-service and graduate teachers in learning to facilitate project-based learning with powerful, modern digital tools. (Project-based learning invites students to engage as researchers and critical thinkers to pursue answers to significant questions. Students use digital tools as support in their research to organize and conceptualize their thinking and to produce presentations designed to demonstrate their knowledge.)

"In our first semester of undergraduates working with the notebook computers, some students were saying to me that they didn't see a place for digital technology in elementary classrooms," relates Boldt, associate professor of language and literacy education. "I knew that just hearing it from College of Education faculty wouldn't carry the same weight as seeing teachers and kids in classrooms actually doing this stuff."

The videos are available on the EDTAP Web site at http://edtap.psu.edu/. The videos are aimed at improving teachers’ understanding of innovative instructional methods facilitated by digital technology—methods that are increasingly vital for teachers these days.

"It has not only to do with using the notebook in powerful ways, but it also has to do with the notion of teaching as collaboration, inquiry, and life-long learning and how having the technology changes your perceptions about learning and about the world, " adds Boldt.

Production of the videos was phase one of EDTAP. The next step will feature online samples of the children's actual work with associated links to the films. Also planned for EDTAP is the addition of video interviews with the teachers about why they did what they. Additionally, the researchers hope to see other faculty from across the state create similar projects and build the archive.

EDTAP was created by faculty in Penn State's College of Education and teachers and students in the State College Area School District. Penn State faculty collaborating with Boldt on EDTAP are Karen Eppley, assistant professor of education; Orrin Murray, assistant professor of instructional systems and curriculum and instruction; James Nolan, professor of curriculum and instruction; and Carla Zembal-Saul, professor of science education. The project was funded by the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and the College of Education with technical support from Penn State's Educational Technology Services and WPSU.