Teachers use technology to enhance learning experience

Andrew Bugel

Kent State University’s AT&T classroom has kept students and teachers of all grades up-to-date and informed on how to use new technology in the classrooms.

The classroom, founded by Dale L. Cook in 1998, is part of the University’s Research Center for Educational Technology, or RCET. In order to increase learning for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, the room was designed to provide both students and teachers access to only the newest technologies.

Cook’s vision for the classroom was always to enhance learning for children by providing teachers with a place where they could take their classes and actually use the technology, said Thomas McNeal, who serves as the AT&T classroom technology director.

The classroom has hosted more than 155 different classes in more than 22 school districts across Northeast Ohio.

Annette Kratcoski, the director of the RCET, said local teachers are selected by their district during the academic school year to bring their classes in and learn about certain curriculum topics while using the latest technology such as iPads, laptops, Apple TVs, 3-D visual display systems and iTouches, as well as other tablets.

Grants provided to the school fund certain projects that students have the opportunity to work on, and the cost for schools to come to the University for six weeks is free, Kratcoski said. The classroom also has five cameras that are mounted in the ceiling and a laboratory in the back where researchers can observe the children and monitor how they use the technology. Technical support and daily curriculum are provided to the teachers and students by the research center.

Kratcoski said one of the goals of the AT&T classroom is to make sure students and teachers are able to incorporate the new technology into their current curriculum.

“We work with the teachers to look at the curricular content they want to teach and the concepts they want students to master,” she said. “And then what projects could we design to help students work towards mastering those concepts and then how can we use technology to create learning opportunities for students to engage with that content and learn those concepts.”

Kristin Blake, a third grade teacher at Walls Elementary School, currently has her class enrolled in a six-week program at Kent State University. Using iPods and laptops to study and take picture of rocks, her students can learn about the rocks and minerals.

The program is not only helpful to her in teaching her students, but Blake said it also prepares them to use the technology that is in the real world.

“It is very helpful for me to able to integrate some technology into just our everyday curriculum,” she said. “It makes it more engaging to them and it kind of prepares them for what they are really going to be expected to use once they get out into the real life.”

Kratcoski said there is an excitement the classroom because it shows what technology can do to help teachers educate and improve student’s ability to learn.

“It provides an opportunity to improve teaching and learning,” Kratcoski said. “It shows what is possible.”

Contact Andrew Bugel at [email protected]