TEA News Releases Online
Sept. 23, 2011
POWERONTEXAS.com features Abilene Christian University’s digital learning, teaching program
AUSTIN - Abilene Christian University is attracting international attention for creating what many regard as a model mobile learning and teaching program, ACU Connected.
The university is scaling what it’s learned about mobile learning in higher education to K-12. ACU is training K-12 teachers on how to integrate mobile technologies and 21st century skills into the classroom.
The program is currently featured on the POWERONTEXAS.com website, a professional development website established by the Texas Education Agency. In 2010, the website showcased promising practices of technology integration in Texas school districts. This year, TEA is focusing on educator preparation programs. It selected ACU as an example of a program that has integrated technology into its teacher training program.
“I think Abilene Christian University has a really innovative program and a series of strategies that are making a difference,” said Anita Givens, TEA’s associate commissioner of Standards and Programs.
Videos on the site document a creative, collaborative culture brought to light by the launch of ACU’s groundbreaking mobile-learning initiative in 2008. By issuing all undergraduates an iPhone or an iPod, ACU created one of the first digitally connected college campuses.
Since that time, the university has been developing the use of technology as a tool to enhance learning, and the college of education is a direct beneficiary. Unlike other educator preparation programs, where the basic concepts of 21st century teaching and technology integration is more theoretical, the college is embedded in a campus-wide laboratory where these concepts are being tested and refined daily.
As the videos reveal, ACU’s program is driven by the belief that teaching must shift dramatically from the 19th century lecture model to the role of teacher as guide and mentor. This new paradigm focuses on building critical thinking skills by teaching students to find answers to important questions, rather than handing them the answer.
What’s essential in the 21st century, is “being able to problem solve, to be creative, to be innovative,” said Billie McConnell, assistant professor of Teacher Education at ACU.
In addition to informative and thought-provoking interviews with administrators and teachers at the university, viewers are offered a virtual seat in classrooms as teacher candidates learn how to effectively integrate technology into curriculum, implement those strategies in a real elementary school, and conduct research on technology in the classroom.
Clearly, the instructors were all a part of a larger goal of making sure that their teacher candidates were comfortable with the technology and also knew how to use it well within classrooms,” said Ann Smisko, TEA’s associate commissioner for Educator Leadership and Quality.
Among the many inspiring elements of this video portrait, produced by AMS Pictures, is the university’s commitment to produce teachers who are not only competent, but also prepared to be agents of change.
“Those are students who are going to change the world,” said MaLesa Breeding, dean of ACU’s College of Education and Human Services.
For additional information, contact Mary Black at TEA at 512 936-8232.
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