In an era surrounded by ever changing technology, colleges can struggle to keep up with advancements in order to best prepare their students. This can create a technology gap from college to real life, in turn reducing a student’s chances of employment. One department at Waynesburg University strives to make sure its students have the technological tools needed to be best prepared and possibly better prepared than other university students. The Education Department at Waynesburg understands the need for 21st Century learning and has taken steps to ensure their students learn and understand the positive impacts technology can have on a classroom and its students.
Waynesburg’s Department of Education is aware that school districts throughout Pennsylvania have different technology standards and expectations. Some schools have few devices, yet others are 1:1, meaning that all children have a device or computer to enhance their learning. With the knowledge that more school districts are aspiring to implement 1:1 programs, Dr. Julia Bausman, associate professor of education, jumped at the chance to secure a grant that places iPads into future educator’s hands to better embed technology into their lessons. Bausman explains that the use of the devices is, “based on the students they are tutoring and will support the pre-educators understanding of how to help one child at a time.”
The grant Bausman received was funded through The Department of Education, geared toward Early Childhood majors, and provided enough funding for her to buy iPads for students in one class. After researching it, Bausman applied for the grant because she felt it would help her class.
“Not only [would it help them] grow in their technological understanding but also better support the Greater Waynesburg Christian Outreach after school program,” she said.
Bausman said her students complete a field experience and spend an average of between one and three hours a week assisting students with any educational difficulties
Bausman teaches Typical, Atypical Development 6-9 (ages 6-9) as a course for freshman education majors. Within this class, students focus on cognitive and communication development, as well as social and emotional development that coincides with current research on best practices. Through the grant, Bausman found a way to embed technology into the course and believes this will help college students understand the best ways for younger students to gain knowledge.
“[The grant will] help students understand best practices for today’s students to learn and develop their skills with the support of technology,” she said.
Sophie Kipe, a freshman in Bausman’s class also finds the program to be beneficial.
“I think it’s a good opportunity,” she said, “and what is really nice for most of the freshman education majors is that fact that we have a technology course that helps us incorporate the iPads.”
The technology course is helping teach the students how to use diagnostics, SMART boards and other advancements to help the future educators better prepare their students.
For Bausman, education technology is “ever changing,” and gives incoming freshman at Waynesburg an in-depth hand at using specific technology during their field experience better preparing them for a future teaching career.
“In Pennsylvania, a big part of training our pre-service teachers is getting them ready for being in schools,” said Bausman. “[The initiative] will help to build the students’ technology competency and additionally give incentive to the students they are tutoring.”
Kipe feels that the initiative is helping to give students hands-on experience.
“It is nice to be able to get used to separate apps for specific age groups,” she said. “Seeing the kids enjoyment and excitement even though they are still learning is powerful.”
Simply giving each student an iPad and telling them to find ways to use it with the children they are tutoring is not appropriate, so Bausman implemented ways to support this initiative in her class. After receiving their new iPad, students review rules and expectations on proper care, appropriate handling and proper use, said Bausman.
“We are completing projects that are in step with their field placement for this class, but another piece is that the freshmen additionally take a technology class.” She explains, “With those professors, students get introduced to even more on how to implement and use technology effectively and appropriately.”
With constant technological advances, Waynesburg’s Education Department must combat the constant shifts. As the average lifespan of the iPads is four years, Bausman said she is seeking for funding to replace the iPads when they are outdated
Kipe said she loves the ability to have an iPad with her tutorees,
“I thought it was a really awesome thing when she told us, and it’s a great opportunity.” She said. It is a way for the kids (from GWCO) to get experience with the technology as they study different topics like reading, writing and math with these fun little games!”