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New Mexico State University

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NMSU projects focus on technology training for educators

Faculty, students and public school teachers are training to be technological front runners through two major projects in the College of Education at New Mexico State University.



NMSU curriculum and instruction professor Karin Wiburg (NMSU photo by Michael Kiernan)NMSU curriculum and instruction professor Carmen Gonzales (NMSU photo by Michael Kiernan)

"The goal is not technology for the sake of technology, but restructuring teaching and learning in public schools and higher education," said Karin Wiburg, co-author of the 1998 book Teaching with Technology.

Wiburg and Carmen Gonzales are NMSU faculty who have competed for more than $15 million in education grants for projects aimed at integrating technology into teaching.

Wiburg leads PT3 -- Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers Today, through which 17 faculty are learning to incorporate technology in their teaching, thus ensuring that their students -- future teachers -- will integrate it, too. Ongoing mentoring, laptop computers and stipends are part of the support the faculty receive to ensure they use what they learn in workshops.

PT3 also reaches teachers and administrators at Lynn Middle School, Zia Middle School, Mesilla Elementary, and the Gadsden Independent School District.

Results already are evident, Wiburg said. In the Gadsden district, PT3 members are helping design a protocol for teaching math and reading using technology. At Lynn Middle School, students in a new Web Club supervised by teacher Mary Baker are creating their own home pages plus one open to all Lynn students.

Teaching with technology also is the focus of RETA -- the Regional Educational Technology Assistance Project. Since 1995, about 5,000 educators in New Mexico have benefited from the project directed by Gonzales. The co-director is Cynthia Nava, deputy superintendent of Gadsden.

RETA is supported by an $8.7 million, five-year U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant. The project has resource centers at NMSU, Eastern New Mexico University, Western New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico Community College and Santa Fe Community College.

Teachers and school administrators attend workshops on such topics as the World Wide Web, e-mail, multimedia, desktop publishing, and technology integration. This year, 85 RETA instructors are traveling all over New Mexico to give workshops to other educators, "empowering people in their own districts," Gonzales said.

Tools such as the Internet can make subject matter understandable that might not have been as clear without a visual aspect, she said.

For instance, one RETA lesson challenges children to use the basics of geometry as they build a castle on their computer screens.

Students must "prepare to use new technology to move into the world of work and be lifelong learners," Gonzales said.

She expects half of the state's 25,000 teachers will be exposed to RETA by 2003, when the project ends. Then, she intends to find funding to continue the work because "we're in a state that really needs it." she said.

Wiburg agrees. "If students don't have access to technology, their life chances are limited. Technology should not just serve the elite but all students," she said.

Photos are available at

http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/webclub.jpg.
CUTLINE: Lynn Middle School teacher Mary Baker, background, with Web Club students: standing, from left, Raul Calderon, Anis Manshad and Ahmad Manshad; Seated, from left, Jeff Castle and Michael Chavez. (NMSU photo by Michael Kiernan)

http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/wiburg_karin.jpg.(top right)
CUTLINE: NMSU curriculum and instruction professor Karin Wiburg (NMSU photo by Michael Kiernan)

http://kiernan.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/gonzales_carmen.jpg.(lower left)
CUTLINE: NMSU curriculum and instruction professor Carmen Gonzales (NMSU photo by Michael Kiernan)

For a print, call (505) 646-3221.
Rita A. Popp
Dec. 20, 2000