Top N.J. teachers to share their tech savvy

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 start 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 distributing 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 has only been funded for a year, Stapleton

said. However, the New Jersey teacher's union has expressed interest in

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

period.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of the program could prove to be a challenge,

she said, because its uniqueness means there are no existing tools that

can be used to measure its 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."

About the Author

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

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