In classrooms across the country, chalkboards are being replaced by Smart Boards, and iPads are quickly replacing a No. 2 pencil and wide-ruled paper. The world of education continues to change at a rapid pace, and Walsh University is leading the way in preparing educators for the 21st Century through transformative learning practices and new technologies.
Walsh University's Dr. Jacqueline Mumford, Associate Professor of Educational Technology, believes that collaboration is necessary to advance 21st Century teaching and learning skills in the classroom.
In 2011, Dr. Mumford was instrumental in securing an eTech Ohio Teacher Planning Grant in the amount of $100,000 awarded to Walsh's Division of Education. Walsh was one of only 11 colleges in the state to be awarded this competitive grant.
"The grant formally ended this past June," said Dr. Mumford. "But it has already proven to be a catalyst for several new programs and initiatives both on campus and within the community that will continue long after our funding has ended."
Inspired by outcomes from the eTech grant collaboration, Walsh University Visiting Instructor of Education Lisa Baylor hosted a technology themed professional development seminar for Stark County teachers in the Youngstown Diocese in July.
"We originally planned to present our iPad Workshop to 15 teachers," said Baylor. "But it quickly evolved and we decided to open it up to all Stark County parochial schools. We ended up with over 80 teachers, from elementary to high school, with different levels of technology expertise."
As a former parochial teacher with over 20 years of experience at Regina Coeli Elementary School in Alliance, Baylor hopes to establish an ongoing collaboration among the Diocese teachers that will continue the dialogue started at that first seminar.
"Through our parochial schools, we have a unique product that sets us apart from other schools," said Baylor. "We must stay competitive and up-to-date with the needs of the 21st Century. We need to pay attention to what is happening in the public school districts and understand that things like value-added data and technology will play a big part in training our future teachers and providing an education that parents seek out."
According to Dr. Mumford, one critical competency for future teachers will be the utilization of education technologies to ensure K-12 students have the technological skills required to be career and college-ready by graduation. The grant funded the purchase of equipment for Walsh University, including iPads, Kindles, SMART Pens, document cameras, and other devices. As a result, these teaching technologies are being used in many of the Division's education course offerings.
In addition to the eTech focus on 21st Century technology tools, the grant promoted the establishment of close collaboration teams of local teachers, higher education faculty members, administrators and K-12 students. In securing grant funding,
Walsh partnered with three local districts -- the Canton City School District, the North Canton City School District and West Branch Local School District in Mahoning County.
"One of the greatest outcomes of this grant has been the formation of local partnerships," said Dr. Mumford. "We are all learning a great deal more about our local students, teachers and what we need to do in order to prepare future teachers."
Each K-12 school in the partnership received classroom sets of iPads, netbooks, and Kindles. Teams worked together to identify classroom technology needs for the creation of professional development activities and collaboration opportunities. Their research produced two series of professional development courses, an April K-12 student tech fair and a May symposium for teachers, higher education faculty and students.
Dr. Mumford's and Lisa Baylor's research work also led to the development of a new Master of Arts in Education (MAED) track in 21st Century Technologies and an enhanced undergraduate course offering in Instructional Technology.
"We are very excited about what the future holds as we continue our work and research into new methods of applying technology in the classroom," said Dr. Mumford. "We are confident that the benefits of this grant will last for years to come."