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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2011 > EETT Program Builds on Previous Technology Initiatives

EETT Program Builds on Previous Technology Initiatives

The Enhancing Education Through Technology program—or Pennsylvania Title IID—provides professional development to teachers and increased access to technology for their classrooms through more than $35 million in state and federal grant monies.

by David Price (March 2011)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A preliminary report evaluating increased access to education technology in Pennsylvania schools indicates that the program is building on lessons learned from other technology initiatives and targeting key areas identified as needing improvement in order for students to gain the skills and knowledge needed for success in college and beyond.

The Enhancing Education Through Technology program—alternately known as EETT or the Pennsylvania Title IID program—provides professional development to teachers and increased access to technology for their classrooms through more than $35 million in state and federal grant monies. Federal funds are provided through the No Child Left Behind Act and 2009–2010 stimulus funds.

Central to the professional development is training by experts known as instructional technology coaches. Over the last four years, most high schools throughout the state have had a technology coach provided through either state or federal support. The widespread professional development efforts are designed to help teachers make learning more authentic, more focused on higher-order skills, and more student centered in nature.

“By focusing on student learning, rather than on instruction alone, the instructional technology coaches are able to help teachers build a classroom environment where students’ thinking and learning skills are fostered. These 21st-century skills are needed for success in today’s colleges and workplaces,” said Holly Jobe, project manager with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The program additionally supplied classrooms with laptop computers and electronic whiteboards (an electronic whiteboard records what a teacher writes and provides access to resources on the Internet). There are 3,585 classrooms participating in the program.

“By having the technology at hand in their classrooms, teachers are able to immediately apply new strategies that are seen as fostering student learning and develop these strategies with the ongoing face-to-face support of the coach,” said Robin Clausen, co-director of the Classrooms for the Future/EETT Evaluation Project, from his office in the College of Education at Penn State.

The evaluation, based on baseline data collected during the early days of the program, reports that the percentage of students engaged in the classroom is the highest in the middle third of the period with the students engaged overall about 90% of the time over the course of a lesson. Since most students do seem to be engaged, but not at the most intense levels, the report recommends focusing on altering the level of student engagement.

The authors report that there is ample opportunity to increase the degree of motivation and engagement by applying some of the program’s core strategies: reducing time spent in lecture, changing what teachers ask students to do, making assignments more authentic, and encouraging the application of higher-order skills.