Margaret Borden ‘16 says that one of the best lessons she learned during her time in the NC State College of Education was how to always be on the lookout for digital resources and to think critically about how to use them in the classroom.
Borden, who teaches 11th and 12th grade math as well as AP statistics at Knightdale High School, was exposed to a variety of different digital tools during her time as a math education and mathematics major. She recalls lessons that modeled ways to connect technology to content and a course specifically focused on exposing students to mathematical technological tools.
It’s these experiences that she will share when she joins other NC State College of Education faculty, staff and alumni at the Digital Learning Research Symposium on Feb. 14. The theme of the symposium will be “Improving Educator Preparation through Empowered Learning with Technology.”
“Each time I rediscover or learn about a new digital tool, I am taken back to when my NC State professors encouraged me and helped me to understand how to creatively synthesize the tools with the content and curriculum that I am expected to teach,” she said.
The symposium, facilitated by the UNC System and North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU), will showcase to invited legislators, Department of Public Instruction representatives and deans and department heads from various educator preparation programs (EPPs) the ways in which colleges of education prepare faculty and future teachers to be leaders in technology.
“This is a way that, in one place, we can show many different good things happening in EEPs and I’m glad that NC State has an opportunity to be one of the schools that’s going to show off the good work that we do in our programs,” said Kerri Brown Parker, director of the NC State College of Education’s Media and Education Technology Resource Center (METRC) and the college’s representative on the committee that organized the symposium.
The event will feature two showcase rooms — one where faculty, alumni and practicing teachers will discuss their work; and another where representatives from various educator preparation programs from across the state will discuss their use of technology.
As part of this showcase, Brown Parker will share the NC State College of Education’s blended approach to addressing the North Carolina Digital Learning Competencies for Classroom Teachers.
The college has piloted a blended program in which teacher candidates start to learn each of the four competencies — digital content and instruction, data and assessment, leadership in digital learning and digital citizenship — through four different core courses. The students then demonstrate evidence of their understanding of the competencies online, where they will be able to earn a microcredential.
“We’ve always integrated technology into the classes as a big part of the program in the College of Education, but this is a more formal way of having evidence that pre-service teachers have demonstrated some competencies in those four areas,” Brown Parker said.
Helping to highlight the way the NC State College of Education prepares pre-service teachers to incorporate technology into a variety of educational contexts will be Teaching Assistant Professor of STEM Education Cyndi Edgington, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of English Language Arts Education Carl Young, Ph.D.
Young will present with a former student who earned her bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades English Language Arts and Social Studies Education (MSL) before becoming a teacher in Wake County. Through their “Integrating Digital Learning Effectively in the English Language Arts Classroom” presentation, Young and his former student will share their experiences with College of Education courses that prepare educators for digital teaching, learning and leadership in English Language Arts. They will also share insights on effective digital learning tools, activities and projects.
“For the longest time, the focus on technology integration was simply on the tools and software rather than providing the necessary critical thinking and professional development that teachers need to integrate technology effectively,” Young said. “Our college has been very proactive about introducing and integrating the N.C. Digital Competencies for Teachers, and I think it’s important to shine a spotlight on what is possible with regard to digital learning in English Language Arts.”
Edgington’s presentation will highlight the Teaching Mathematics with Technology course, focused exclusively on incorporating technological tools to support the teaching and learning of middle and high school mathematics, as well as the way course assignments help build pre-service teachers’ capacity in digital content and instruction.
“By participating in this event, we can share how the Mathematics Education program incorporates various digital competencies across our courses to complement the work being done in the college’s core courses,” Edgington said. “We seek out opportunities like this event to share our work and learn from the work of others across the state to improve the ways we prepare the next generation of teachers.”
Borden will present alongside Edgington, sharing specific examples of how she applied the ideas learned through the Teaching Mathematics with Technology course to her current classroom. In addition, Borden will present as part of a panel of early career teachers, where she expects to discuss topics that include integrating, effectively using and managing technology in the classroom and the importance of digital learning.
“Technology is dominating our culture, as well as the way that students learn things on their own time. Thus, it is necessary to learn how to teach them effective strategies for navigating the digital world for academic learning and to learn how to capitalize on the knowledge and skills that are right there at their fingertips now,” she said.
“The best way for a teacher to go into the profession being able to teach this is for the educator preparation program to spend time and energy properly preparing them for it.”