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Teaching for the Future

Student DECEO

Tablets, laptops, digital video cameras, smart boards and more are pouring into schools across the country, and the list of new technologies available to teachers and students keeps growing.

To prepare current and future teachers for a world of wired classrooms, the University of Idaho College of Education has opened the Doceõ Center for Innovation + Learning. The center, created through a $3 million J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation grant, was established in summer 2013, and its high-tech learning laboratory classroom opened April 4, 2014.

The center’s goals include not only increasing the capacity of Idaho’s teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms, but also providing research to help educators choose the tools that will most effectively enhance student learning.

Pres Staben and team

“Thanks to our partnership with the Albertson Foundation, the Doceõ Center already has begun helping teachers and students around the state to improve education through the better use of technology,” said Chuck Staben, president of the University of Idaho. “Too many students are failing out of college by the eighth grade, but partnerships like this promise brighter student futures by better educating them from kindergarten to graduate school.”

The Doceõ Center Lab allows pre-service teachers, K-12 students and educators across Idaho to explore the possibilities new technologies offer.

“We are thrilled to be able to say that our pre-service teachers are now being prepared with state-of-the-art technology in a classroom designed for technology integration. We realize, however, that it is not the tools alone that make great teaching and strong learning,” said Cori Mantle-Bromley, dean of the UI College of Education. “Most critical is teachers knowing when technology is appropriate, which technology best addresses the need, and, most importantly, knowing when no technology is actually the best solution. We have the facilities and the faculty expertise to address both issues.”

The center functions as a fully wired classroom in which students can connect laptops, tablets or other devices to the central system to share information and ideas. The instructor guides the room from an iPad that allows him or her to interact with or highlight anything happening on any other screen in the room.

“Everything in this room has educational possibilities,” said Cassidy Hall, the center’s technology integration specialist and lab manager. “This is the way of education right now – teachers and students looking at things collaboratively in a virtual environment.”

Groups of students, teachers and UI faculty have already begun testing technologies and teaching methods in the Doceõ Center Lab. Outside research supported with resources and expertise from the center includes a pilot project testing iPads and Chromebooks for students at tribal elementary schools in Washington and Idaho; a project offering afterschool computer game programming in Boise; and a study of how technology can help measure students’ physical activity to help prevent childhood obesity.

The Doceõ Center staff also conducts research of their own. For example, the center’s Chromebook initiative has placed carts of the relatively inexpensive laptops in more than 10 Idaho schools, allowing researchers to understand how students use them, how they affect learning and how sustainable they are for schools across the state.

The teaching, learning and research already underway at the center highlight the vision for transforming education shared by the University of Idaho and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

“It really shows Albertson Foundation’s foresight and recognition of the problems we’re facing in the state to not only want to improve Idaho schools, but also to make Idaho a national leader in guiding large-scale educational innovation with technology,” center director Royce Kimmons said. “The final goal is that we will become a national model for education.”

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