NEWSLETTER: VOL IV, # 1, January 28, 1999
Health Education Science & Athletics (HESA),
Helps Tomorrows Teachers
by Caroline Heibler*
When student teachers are placed far away from UWSP for their classroom experience, it may be difficult for them to get back to campus to share their questions and concerns with their professors and peers.
That connection with resources on campus does not have to be broken with the addition of video conferencing for student teachers, a project created by Scott Frazier.
Fraziers grant was for "Creation of a Distance Learning Student Teacher Seminar: Using technology to help tomorrows educators." The project is being introduced to physical education and health students in his Teaching Secondary Methods class and will be implemented next spring as they are assigned to student teaching classrooms.
Using computers in their schools or homes, student teachers will be able to meet, discuss problems, solutions and other ideas with Frazier and other students in the same situation across the state. Using small video cameras atop their computer monitors and Microsoft Net Meeting software, all involved will be able to see and talk to each other on a system not unlike a videophone.
"I wanted to find a way to communicate with the students at their site," he said, "rather than having them come back to campus." He said that some of his students are currently in Milwaukee, Watertown and Manitowoc, which makes it hard for them to attend regular meetings on campus without disrupting their schedules.
The grant funds were used to purchase the video cameras for himself and the students, which will be reused by future student teachers. Pat Plotz, an information processing consultant for UWSP Information Technology assisted Frazier in purchasing the equipment. The funds will also be used as Frazier takes some release time this spring to develop the project further.
Using video conferencing at a personal computer makes telecommunication cheaper and more accessible for the students and the instructor, Frazier said.
The system will give the students firsthand knowledge of distance learning, said he added, which they can put to use in their own teaching careers. They will learn how to set up and use the equipment and software themselves while in Fraziers class, then experience the technology firsthand as they meet via computer this spring.
"The students are enthusiastic about the idea," Frazier said, adding that they are receptive to learning to use new technology. "For another part of this class they are teaching software programs to each other, and in December, we will try a videoconference in class."
There are also benefits for the department, he added, which will be able to better monitor the students in the field as well as teach instructors like himself to use the technology and become comfortable using distance learning methods.
The Department of Communicative Disorders has also shown interest in the project, Frazier said, as they often have student teachers all over the country who are unable to return to UWSP to share their experiences in the field.