Teachers to take technology online and on the road
The Press of Atlantic City

July 10, 2001
By DIANE D’AMICO
Education Writer, (609) 272-7241

On the Web

Information about the 20 teachers and their projects is available on the Department of Education Web site at

www.state.nj.us/education

Click on Educational Technology, then on Technology Fellowships.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Last year Christine Osei-TuTu used distance learning and virtual field trips to teach middle school students in Millville about horseshoe crabs, bird migration and their impact on southern New Jersey wetlands.

Starting in September, she will take her lessons on the road — and online — as one of 20 state Department of Education Technology Fellows.

The $2.5 million DOE program plans to tap the talents of some of the state’s most innovative teachers, giving them a year out of the classroom to share their technological expertise with teachers around the state.

Or, as Oakcrest High School math teacher Kathleen Willson put it: “It gives me time to go out and play with other teachers and be their coach.”

The teachers were chosen in a competitive process, with one from each county except Salem, which had no entrants. The teachers’ salaries, benefits and expenses will be paid by the state, allowing their school districts to hire replacements for the academic year.

This week the fellows are at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, home of the Atlantic County Educational Technology Training Center, or ETTC, for introductory “team-building” workshops to familiarize them with state resources they can use.

“They were all chosen for their expertise in using technology in the classroom,” said Julia Stapleton, director of the DOE Office of Education Technology. Each teacher also has a project that they will promote both online and in workshops.

Willson said teachers often are apprehensive about doing something they are not comfortably familiar with and often don’t have the time to spend learning a lot of new programs or developing online lessons.

“I can be there to model it for them and coach them through it,” she said. “It just makes it a lot easier.”

She hopes to develop an online Virtual Institute of lesson plans teachers can tap into and share.

Middle Township computer teacher Susan Ross plans to use her district as the model for teaching teachers how to create their own Web pages. She also would be available to do workshops at other districts around the state.

“I want to learn from the other teachers as well as be a teacher,” she said. “The talent in this room is unbelievable.”

Willson, Ross and Sharon Faith from Southern Regional High School are all recent graduates of Stockton’s master’s degree program in Instructional Technology. They said they are excited about the opportunity to take technology in schools to a higher level and admitted that too many school computers are not used to their full potential.

“We need to get teachers to actually use the technology as part of the curriculum,” Ross said. “But teachers really don’t get enough training to know how to do it.”

Faith said once teachers see how technology can excite students, they are usually hooked.

“Instead of just sitting there, technology brings the students into the learning process,” she said. “It gives them more options and lets them use their own creativity in projects.”

A marketing teacher, Faith already has 10 high schools signed up to participate in her Web-based e-commerce project that will include having students create an Internet company.

Stapleton said the DOE is working with the New Jersey Education Association to spread the word about fellows so that other teachers or school districts interested in training can contact them through their districts or county ETTC. There are plans for a workshop at the NJEA convention in Atlantic City in November, and profiles in the NJEA Review magazine.

“We are trying to get the word out that these teachers are available,” Stapleton said.

The teachers, who received laptop computers and will get cellular phones and a travel allowance, are like students on a field trip in their excitement to get started.

“I just can’t wait,” Ross said. “This is a unique opportunity.”