Kennesaw State shares instructional technology expertise through community partnerships
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 20, 2021) — Along with being a leader in preparing students to become teachers, Kennesaw State University extends its commitment to teaching and learning to numerous communities in Georgia and other states through partnerships between the Bagwell College of Education and K-12 school districts.
At the forefront is iTeach, a service unit of the Bagwell College that assists teachers in utilizing technology to enhance their day-to-day instruction. For example, teachers across all grade levels in the neighboring Paulding County School District have received training from iTeach since their partnership began in 2014. Those teachers have then shared it with colleagues who implemented it into their teaching, multiplying the technology training and knowledge throughout each school and benefiting thousands of students.
“I love it when a teacher lights up after learning new ways to leverage strategies to help enrich teaching practices which ultimately improve student achievement,” said Nisa Peek, an education technology specialist at KSU and the iTeach lead for Paulding County. “A lot of the teachers have said that this is the best professional development they’ve ever received because it’s boots-on-the-ground methodology they could use the next day in their classroom.”
The iTeach unit is an integral component of Kennesaw State’s School of Instructional Technology and Innovation, which earlier this year was elevated to a school from department within the Bagwell College. Contributing to KSU’s reputation as a leader in instructional technology, the iTeach team of teachers, media specialists and administrators provides technology-related consulting and professional learning to about 275 schools and school districts.
Paulding County tapped into that resource, seeking additional support to blend technology into daily coursework in its 33 schools. Though it has the 13th-largest enrollment among school districts in Georgia, Paulding is a suburban district with a smaller instructional technology department and budget than comparably sized districts.
“As we embarked on new initiatives, including the implementation of a learning management system and digital and virtual learning, iTeach has been a critical partner in professional development,” said Susan Browning, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for Paulding County School District. “They have directly or indirectly impacted all 1,700-plus teachers across all 33 of our schools, so it’s a very valuable partnership to us.”
The relationship with Paulding County began with iTeach giving in-person training to teachers and demonstrating model classrooms and has expanded to include assistance to teachers who now are providing their instruction entirely in a virtual format. In addition, Paulding is the first district to have every one of its schools visited by the iTeach MakerBus, a mobile classroom that provides students hands-on learning in robotics, coding, engineering and other technology-related experiences.
The instructional methods have continued to evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic, as iTeach has developed a series of how-to videos for parents. The nearly 40 videos, accessible on YouTube and through the Paulding County School District portal, cover a range of topics to help parents understand and assist with the technology their children are using in school.
“We are always working together with Paulding to determine what we can do better or differently to meet the needs of their teachers every year,” said Brittani Crocker, an iTeach education technology specialist who teams with Peek in Paulding County.
Their work also has a personal connection for both Peek, whose children attend Paulding County schools, and Crocker, who began her teaching career at East Paulding High School. Crocker was in her second year as a teacher when she attended a daylong training session led by Peek – and gained so much from iTeach that she wanted to become part of it.
“Everything we were learning was so impactful that I asked Nisa that day, ‘How do I get to do what you do?’” Crocker said. “When an opportunity at iTeach opened up three years later, I knew it was meant to be that I work with those Paulding teachers and support them in something I knew was meaningful because I had done it myself.”
– Paul Floeckher
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.