Consortium Building: The AZ K-12 Center/Northern Arizona University Teaching And Learning With Technology PT3 Project
Michael Blocher, PhD – NAU – USA --
Patty Horn, Ph.D. Arizona K-12 Center – USA –
Sherry Markel, Ph.D. – NAU – USA –
Ann Batchelder, Ph.D. – NAU – USA –
Greg Sherman, Ph.D. – Arizona K-12 Center – USA –
Northern Arizona University's (NAU) PT3 Grant is a consortium of individuals from very unique organizations that provide specific expertise to handle the collaboration among all state colleges and universities, Arizona K-12 schools (AZ-K-12 Center), the Governor's Office, and the Arizona Department of Education. Building a consortium of this nature is, although extremely complex and challenging, tremendously important and rewarding in fulfilling the goals of the grant – especially in light of possible changing federal educational funding policies. Building and maintaining good working consortia is essential in the success of any project, but especially for PT3 projects. This paper describes the organizational structure and provides examples of how each party plays a pivotal role in the success of this PT3 endeavor.
The NAU PT3 project is designed to support: a) the training of its education college faculty to model and teach the use of technology; b) the redesign of its teacher preparation curriculum to include technology integration; c) the redesign of its distance learning teacher preparation program for pre-service teachers in 34 remote sites to include on-site mentoring for integration of technology; d) the development of a culturally sensitive mentoring model for use with Arizona's minority students and teachers; and e) the development of a Technology Integration Best Practices Clearinghouse including electronic, print, video, and audio resources available to schools and colleges statewide. To do so, each component is led by a Principal Investigator with specialties in their specific area – Dr. P. Horn, director of The AZ-K12 Center provides organizational leadership, Dr. S. Markel, Associate Professor of Instructional Leadership provides leadership in the redesign of education methods curriculum, Dr. A. Batchelder, Associate Professor of Instructional Leadership will coordinate the design and implementation of a school-based technology integration mentoring model piloted with pre-service teachers on the Navajo Reservation, and Dr. J. M. Blocher, Assistant Professor of Educational Technology provides leadership for technology integration and faculty support through out the project.
Probably the most unique organization and role is that of the AZ-K-12 Center because of its distinctive mission to improve the quality of K-12 teaching and learning in Arizona classrooms. On its inception, Governor Jane Dee Hull called for the creation of the Center and through the state of Arizona committed $2 Million to support training and re-tooling of teacher skills based on best practices. As part of their mission, the AZ-K12 Center provides a clearinghouse that fosters communication and shares knowledge and information through out the state. However, one of the most unique roles the Center will play is to build consortia between state governing and funding entities and other Arizona universities in their efforts in preparing future teachers. In this pivotal role, Dr. Horn acts as a liaison between a variety of state decision makers. For example, Dr. Horn meets regularly with the state’s law makers, including the superintendent of schools, and has other collaborative projects with Arizona State University, Arizona State University West, Grand Canyon College, Central Arizona College, to mention a few.
Northern Arizona University also has a unique role in that its mission is to provide educational opportunities to rural and underserved populations within the state. For example, many of the students are located in vastly remote areas and access to course work is often delivered to remote sites via Instructional TV courses, Web-based courses or even site based. This presents challenges for cooperating teachers trying to integrate technology where support and training can often be limited. To address these issues, an alliance has been established between Educational Technology and the Instructional Leadership to provide technology training and support along with mentor training and support for the cooperating teachers. Through both on-campus workshops and site-based visits, cooperating teachers will receive mentor and technology training to be supported in their expansion of modeling technology integration for their student teachers. For example, Drs. Markel, Batchelder, and Blocher are working closely together to design and provide their respective expertise.
As mentioned earlier, this PT3 project also proposes to provide training, but most importantly, support for its education college faculty in the redesign of its teacher preparation curriculum to include technology integration and thereby model and teach the use of technology. While many, if not most, PT3 projects are designed to re-train faculty through workshops, the focus for this aspect of the NAU PT3 project is to provide support for and collaboration between education methods faculty. Faculty are supported in a variety of ways, most importantly in the redesign of their courses with the help of a technology liaison. The function of the technology liaison is to coordinate and communicate pedagogical needs of the individual faculty and to make suggestions and help implement technology integration solutions. An instructional designer supports the technology liaison by providing online media and instructional systems that will support both campus based and distance delivered courses.