N.J. teachers to mentor peers

Technology Fellowship: Mentoring and Modeling

The New Jersey Department of Education, with funding from the U.S. Education

Department, has developed the first statewide program in the nation that

uses working teachers to help train and mentor their peers in the practical

use of computers and instructional technology.

The 20 teachers in the Technology Fellowship: Mentoring and Modeling

program were chosen through a competitive application process carried out

at the district and county levels. They will be released from their teaching

responsibilities from July 1 through June 30, 2002, and will start actively

mentoring other teachers in classroom situations at the beginning of the

school year this fall.

The teachers will collaborate with New Jersey's county-based Educational

Technology Training Centers during their training and mentoring stints,

and they also will help develop a multimedia Web portal through which students

and teachers can learn how to use technology and the Internet more effectively.

"We've had a substantial investment of around $50 million a year in

hardware and software for schools, and we feel we've been making good progress

[in disseminating technology]," said Julia Stapleton, New Jersey's director

of educational technology. "But what we haven't had up to now is appropriate

expertise in classroom instruction of how to use that technology most effectively."

The downside is that the program is funded for only a year, Stapleton

said, although the New Jersey teacher's union has become interested in the

program, offering some hope that the program may get funded beyond the initial

period.

A challenge could be showing how effective the program will be, she

said, because its uniqueness means there are no existing metrics that can

be used to measure the success. The people involved know it will be a powerful

program, Stapleton said, "but how to show this in a formal, hard way is

the question."

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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