The majority of the 500 students in Granite State College’s School of Education are already employed in K12 schools across New Hampshire. Primarily serving adult learners seeking additional endorsements or certifications in areas of critical shortage, the institution includes a main campus in Concord and extensive online courses.
“Our teacher candidates work in districts that range in level of access to technology resources,” says Nicholas Marks, associate dean for the School of Education. “Some work in urban 1-to-1 computing schools. Yet others have nearly zero access to technology to assist in their teaching.”
This presented problems for School of Education faculty in knowing what content to teach.
“Not knowing what technology limitations exist within given school settings means inconsistency in instructional delivery for our faculty,” says Marks.
Wanting to achieve equity for all School of Education students, Marks and his team reached out to the Department of Education in New Hampshire for advice in the fall of 2013. They were looking for a way to equip teacher candidates with tools that can enhance instruction.
“We wanted our students to have a selection of technology that was mobile and had certain specifications,” says Marks.
DOE leaders had recently worked with GovConnection to provide internet access to low-income areas in New Hampshire, and recommended the IT solutions provider as a source of education technology expertise.
GovConnection was able to provide suggestions for devices and software that can help teacher candidates improve their teaching and bring technology to schools that may be lacking in resources. The School of Education’s Educator Toolkit contains a 32GB iPad, mini LCD projector, mobile printer/copier/scanner combo and a variety of professional development and productivity software, including GoToMeeting and Teachscape.
“We knew we did not have the expertise to select the right products to optimally benefit our teacher candidates and the K12 students they serve, but GovConnection did,” says Marks.
All School of Education students must purchase the Toolkit directly from GovConnection, which ensures the ability to incorporate technology into instruction, regardless of where they teach. If a student already owns a particular device included in the Toolkit, GovConnection can offer a customized option.
Because the Toolkit is an upfront investment for students, the School of Education has reduced costs in other areas. For example, open education resources are being favored over expensive traditional textbooks.
“By embedding the Toolkit as part of high-impact teaching and learning strategies, we were able to create an understanding that the Toolkit is an essential set of 21st-century tools for impacting and improving teaching and learning,” says Marks.
In addition to training videos produced by the School of Education that demonstrate how to work with the devices in the Toolkit, teacher candidates can turn to GovConnection directly for questions about financing and tech support.
“GovConnection truly meets the needs of our students,” says Marks, who says that, ultimately, implementing the Educator Toolkit has fulfilled the School of Education’s goal of improving the quality of its teacher candidates.
“We are seeing more engaged teacher candidates who have an increased willingness to experiment with technology and also possess a new perspective on how technology can enhance teaching and learning.”
For more information, visit www.govconnection.com