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Technology Summit Makes School-College Connection

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Nashville, Tenn.

Small teams of teachers and education professors gathered here recently to ponder how to use technology more effectively.

They also got to know each other better.

Getting acquainted was a priority of the two-day conference, held Sept. 20-21 at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, because the team members, who in many cases barely knew one another, were about to embark on nine-month collaborative projects.

To assemble the teams of four to six members, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education invited selected education professors in 11 states to recruit members of their own faculty and teachers from a nearby high school.

"Those are people who frankly don't spend enough time together," said Peggy O'Brien, the vice president for education at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which paid for the conference.

A similar regional conference took place in Pittsburgh last spring, and the final Ernest L. Boyer Technology Summits for Educators will be held next year in Los Angeles and Dallas.

Arthur E. Wise, the president of Washington-based NCATE, called the formula for the summits "a deliberate strategy based on research and experience."

Undaunted by the teams' sketchy two-page proposals, the Nashville organizers sought to build momentum with a blend of big-picture speeches, panel discussions, and demonstrations of educational software.

What many participants seemed to want most was guidance in how technology could help them cope with changes in standards and course content, in evaluation, and in expectations for student behavior.

The teams will be able to discuss such issues in electronic forums--through e-mail and the World Wide Web--sponsored by the CPB for the next nine months, as well as exchange ideas and progress reports with the teams from other regions.

The CPB will award $5,000 grants next month to teams whose proposals pass a peer-review committee.

One team brought two professors from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., together with three teachers from the city's Grove High School.

They proposed a follow-up project that would use teleconferencing equipment at both schools to let pre-service teachers peer into real classes, while encouraging high schoolers to communicate with students and teachers at the university.

"We wanted to use our lab as a springboard," said Janice Kelly, who teaches English and runs the computer laboratory at Grove High.

The team also sought to include the university in the high school's partnership with Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. By visiting corporate facilities and "shadowing" employees, professors and pre-service teachers might better understand the skills needed by career-bound students.

The link with Gulfstream could be enriched, the team later decided, by matching the real concerns of engineers with high school projects in applied science or math. Students in different subjects could visit different Gulfstream departments.

James W. Pellegrino, the dean of Peabody College, admitted that his goal as host of the conference was partly to showcase the education college's year-old Learning Technology Center.

The center is housed in the stately Social and Religious Building, built in 1915 but gutted and turned into a high-tech training facility that opened last year.

The facility is also the center of an extensive effort to develop educational software. Faculty members and researchers from many parts of the university help create videodisc simulations that let children become scientists and mathematicians--while keeping teachers in charge.

Other simulations give prospective teachers a taste of what real classrooms are like.

The simulations should not replace real outings, but give students background to make real experiences more meaningful, said John Bransford, a co-director of the center.

As part of the "Scientists in Action" series, middle school students become medical detectives in the 1970s and try to find the cause of sickness in a group of urban children. Students use a computerized array of maps and analytical tools to trace the cause: lead poisoning from paint chips.

--ANDREW TROTTER

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