The University Record, September 13, 1999

Dearborn helps prep teachers to use new technologies

By Tracy Balazy
U-M-Dearborn

“We’re finding kids know more than their teachers do, technology-wise,” says Denise Ochmanek, a U-M-Dearborn School of Education student who plans to work toward a new teacher certification in technology.

“Not that this is a bad thing, but we need to incorporate technology as a tool, not just a game they can play with. By using technology,” Ochmanek adds, “students are able to become researchers themselves, and they have skills they can take into the workforce.”

Educational leaders say that while many school districts have purchased high-tech computer equipment, teacher training in using the gear has lagged behind.

Future teachers are required by the Michigan Department of Education to take a course in educational technology, and a new consortium will award a certificate of achievement for completing a course.

The Consortium for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching with Technology (COATT), composed of 10 Michigan colleges and universities including the U-M-Dearborn, was developed by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

“One of the things I learned from travelling around the state is that one of the greatest shortfalls in our schools is teachers’ ability to use the technology available to them. Where we are falling short in Michigan, and perhaps across the country, is in professional development.”

Dearborn School of Education Dean John Poster notes that “Levin and COATT members know that many schools are not ready to use technology yet, but recognizing teachers who are ‘early adopters’ will encourage school districts to move into the 21st century.”

Certificate applicants will supply a participating university with a digital portfolio indicating mastery beyond the state-required basic level. A jury at each participating university will apply the COATT criteria to each portfolio, ensuring standardization among the COATT schools.

James Lenze and Gail Luera, both assistant professors of education, are representing Dearborn in the development of standards for certification.

“We spent last year redesigning our technical preparation around this standard so every student will have an opportunity to develop a project that would be easily adapted to this,” Lenze says. “We’ve really geared our educational technology course to demonstrate our level of commitment.”