Computer giant IBM is awarding $15 million in grants to nine partnerships between public schools and colleges of education in an attempt to strengthen teacher-preparation programs.
The goal of the grants is to give prospective teachers more, and better, experience in precollegiate classrooms.
“Training can’t be divorced from the actual doing,” said Stanley S. Litow, the vice president of corporate community relations for the International Business Machines Corp., based in Armonk, N.Y. “It has to be connected in an ongoing way.”
Each of the grants, which were announced late last month, totals at least $1.5 million in resources from the company, including technology, research, and cash. The grant teams are made up of at least one school district or state education department and one college of education, as well as other partners.
The central piece of technology the nine partnerships will have access to is the Riverdeep Learning Village, a Web site designed and operated by IBM that allows teacher-candidates to craft lesson plans and have them critiqued by their mentors, other teacher-educators, or teachers in the district.
“We should applaud any efforts to foster the use of technology in education, be it for the education of teachers or the education of children,” said Arthur E. Wise, the president of the Washington-based National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Researchers at IBM will also be developing new tools for teacher education and professional development, Mr. Litow said.
In North Carolina, the 109,000-student Charlotte- Mecklenburg school district is joining with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Davidson College, in Davidson, N.C.; Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte; Queens College, also in Charlotte; and Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.
Teacher-candidates in participating colleges can begin using a version of the Riverdeep Learning Village that is aligned by subject and grade level with the state’s academic standards. They also can get access to resources aimed at helping them design original lesson plans that can then be judged by veteran teachers who also tap in to the Web site. Both students at the college of education and new teachers will benefit from the new program, according to Mary Lynn Calhoun, the dean of the education college at UNC- Charlotte.
Other partnerships that received grants are located in Chicago; Baltimore; Clark County, Nev.; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia; and San Jose, Calif. IBM also selected the state education departments and several teacher- training institutions in Vermont and West Virginia to participate.