W.Va. teachers to get Web training

The West Virginia Department of Education has formed a partnership with the WorldCom Foundation that involves training teachers across the state to use Internet resources in the classroom.

The WorldCom Foundation is providing $25,000 to train the state's K-12 teachers to implement the MarcoPolo (marcopolo.worldcom.com) program into their curriculum.

MarcoPolo is a portal with online resources that include panel-reviewed links to educational sites, professionally developed lesson plans, classroom activities, materials to help with daily classroom planning and educational search engines. It's the product of collaboration between WorldCom Inc. and seven educational organizations.

"What we get out of this is acknowledgement as a partner on the various Web sites," said Caleb Schutz, executive director of the WorldCom Foundation. "It's a great honor to be associated with such prestigious organizations as the National Geographic Society and the Kennedy Center for the [Performing] Arts, and when you go to their sites, you see that they are partnering with us. It also shows us that the teachers approve of how we're trying to better education. It's a great seal of approval from the teachers' standpoint."

"We were really impressed with the value that the program offered to our existing curriculum," said Keith Comstock, West Virginia's chief technology officer. "We really liked the value offered by the portals — they were easy to navigate and the kids loved them."

Training, which will consist of half-day sessions conducted statewide throughout the summer, includes seminars taught by professionally trained Internet education specialists from the MarcoPolo project. Teachers will get a MarcoPolo resource guidebook and CD-ROM to use throughout the year.

"The site is totally free, and anyone with a computer and a Web browser can access MarcoPolo," said Phyllis Justice, telecommunications specialist in the West Virginia Department of Education's Office of Technology (access.k12.wv.us). "But what this partnership is doing is providing training for the teachers to help make them aware of the resources that the MarcoPolo project provides. And it's imperative that teachers not just know that this resource is out there, but also how best to use the partner sites and implement them into their lessons."

West Virginia is the 45th state to sign on to the MarcoPolo program, which has been running since 1998. The $25,000 will be used to hire a coordinator for the statewide training program.


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