Tech Educator Profile: Jana Craig Hare
- By Bridget McCrea
For the last 13 years Jana Craig Hare has served as a technology facilitator for the nation's schools. She's been able to expand that role at the ALTEC (Advanced Learning Technologies in Education Consortia) Center for Research and Learning at the University of Kansas, where she serves as associate director, helping the organization live up to its mission of helping K-12 schools successfully integrate technology.
A former secondary teacher, preK-12 educational technology coordinator, and state educational technology director, Hare brings to the table the classroom perspective to implementing technology with school improvement, including best practices in research-based instructional strategies and technology integration.
Hare is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Kansas with a minor in Program Evaluation. She has taught both pre-service teachers and inservice teachers.
While technology and the districts that use it have both come a long way since Hare got involved with the educational sector, she said there is a clear lack of training on integration.
"We don't just teach how to use programs like Microsoft Word in a way that maximizes all of the program's features and benefits," said Hare. "We focus on teaching how to use these programs within the classroom environment."
The good news, said Hare, is that teachers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the use of technology in their classrooms as the K-12 level. "Some of it is their own personal comfort level," she said, "and also in seeing the benefits that it can provide for student learning."
ALTEC works closely with the Kansas State Department of Education on their implementation of the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) initiative. This program, funded through Title II Part D of the No Child Left Behind Act, focuses on technology integration through specific content areas of math, reading, or science in grades 3 through 6.
Through this program, districts are encouraged to apply for Technology Rich Classroom grants to be awarded by KSDE. "The nice thing about the grant is that, along with the equipment, a grant like this also provides the professional development of a half-time facilitator supporting four teachers as we move through the two-year process," said Hare. "The facilitator supports the teacher in the classroom, helping him or her move through the process of integrating technology."
For ALTEC, Hare also coordinates professional development focusing on technology integration and technology leadership. ALTEC also works closely with the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas, specifically the Partnership Instructional Coaching.
"It was an area of interest that fits well with the facilitators that we use for our technology classroom projects, and something ALTEC is definitely interested in."
As many other organizations have already realized, securing funding for the technology and time commitment involved with such projects is never easy. Other challenges, according to Hare, include finding the time necessary to learn the new technology and making it work in the classroom. She said ALTEC takes the "baby step" approach, helping administrators figure out first how to integrate the technology into the existing system, and then learning how to apply it at a higher level.
"We don't just encourage them to put technology in there for technology's sake," said Hare. "We approach it from a higher-thinking level by asking critical questions and figuring out the most effective integration and usage possible."
Going forward, Hare said she expects to see more educators attempting to leverage technology to meet the needs of schools and students in today's society, be it via mobile devices, educational games or other hardware.
She also sees parents playing a larger role in their children's use of technology, particularly when it comes to surfing the Web. "We're seeing more schools and teachers taking an interest in providing parent education," said Hare, "not as a scare tactic, but as a way to raise awareness."
Bridget McCrea is a business and technology writer in Clearwater, FL. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.