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Bringing High-Tech Development to High-Need Schools

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A new certificate program launching later this year will show educators and administrators how technologies like text messaging, podcasting, and videoconferencing can boost the learning experience at underserved schools in Arizona.

Known as "Teach-Tec," the program was developed through a partnership between Arizona State University, the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and the Arizona Telemedicine Programs at U Arizona's College of Medicine.

ASH's Bob Ramsey Executive Education Program is awarding the certificate, according to the program's director Catherine Eden. She said Teach-Tec's sponsors are currently working with public administrators to identify eligible institutions that want and need the technology training. "We're targeting underserved schools because they need us the most,'' Eden said.

Teach-Tec sponsors plan to work with schools that show an Interest in the program, said Eden. The 12-hour-long training classes will take place in late June.

Faculty from the three program sponsors will train and certify the teachers. The schools will be selected for their diverse student bodies, interest in the project, and histories of successful collaboration. Eden said the course content will be recorded for use by other educators in Arizona.

Funded through the Arizona Regents Reach Out Grant, the program will benefit schools in Maricopa County, Pima County and the Navajo and Hopi reservations. These include Health Science High School in Mesa and Genesis Academy High School in Phoenix.

The Reach Out grant supports innovative, university-based distance-learning projects that are collaborative and help workforce development.

"This will help teachers bring exciting innovation into the classroom," said Gail Barker, co-director of administration and finance of the Arizona Telemedicine Program, and a faculty member at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. "They'll be using existing technology, so there won't be much expense putting what they learn to use right away."

Eden said the program is a good fit for ASH Ramsey Program's overall mission of providing innovative professional development programs. ''We knew that we could help, both on the training side and with the development of the certificate program,'' said Eden. ''This initiative is part of our continual goal of helping the public and educational sectors use technology as much as possible.''

ASU's Ramsey program has produced about 12,000 graduates from its executive education courses since it began 25 years ago. The program, which provides professional development programs that build the capacity of people and organizations that serve the public, is part of the School of Public Affairs within the ASU College of Public Programs at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program is a multidisciplinary, university-based program that provides telemedicine services, distance learning, informatics training, and telemedicine technology assessment capabilities to communities throughout Arizona.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program site in Phoenix, called the T-Health Institute, is housed in the Phoenix Union High School building on the campus of The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University.

The UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health stands as the only nationally accredited college of public health in the 12-state Mountain/Pacific region. The college provides both undergraduate and graduate education in population-based health disciplines to prepare students for professional and academic public health careers.

Working together, Eden said universities are playing an important role in encouraging technology use at the K-12 level. With plenty of opportunity to "text out" new technology tools--rather than being bogged down by the daily grind--institutions of higher education can help fill the gap. "Universities have the luxury of trying new things," said Eden, "and using those innovations to get students and teachers excited about technology."

About the Author

Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at bridgetmc@earthlink.net.

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