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$5 million grant announced for Doceo Centers for Innovation + Learning

$5 million grant announced for Doceo Centers for Innovation + Learning

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation announced a $5 million grant to establish a pair of Doceõ Centers for Innovation + Learning at two Idaho universities, one public and one private.  The Doceõ Centers at the University of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University will focus on blended learning – the convergence of teaching strategies and technology.

“We want to help equip and train the next generation of teachers to improve student achievement in Idaho,” says Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.  “Students at all grade levels desperately need teachers who, not only don’t fear technology, but embrace it to help students adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

The Doceõ Centers will be launched in the spring of 2013.  In addition to cutting-edge training for Idaho teacher candidates, the Centers will also offer development training on blended learning techniques as well as opportunities to participate in classroom research projects for current preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers and administrator professionals.  Reports on research conducted at the Centers will be published semi-annually and a conference will be hosted annually.

Eric Kellerer, Ed.D., director of the NNU Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, says that for the last 20 years, educators were promised that technology would transform education.

“At the same time, we have seen huge leaps in understanding the process of learning (the pedagogy) for students.  Unfortunately, those two themes, technology and pedagogy, have failed to come together,” explains Dr. Kellerer.   “This is the time.  We stand at the precipice of a generation in which there will be a convergence of the technical with the educational.”

According to Dr. Paul T. Hill, founder of the Center for Reinventing Public Education and research professor at the University of Washington, Idaho would be the first state to revamp its schools of education around blended learning.  Dr. Hills says that even modest success would make Idaho a national leader.

“We can’t get better outcomes for the kids who are not learning without doing things differently,” says Dr. Hill.  “Moreover, for the kids who are doing okay in school now, the bar is continually being set higher by a dynamic economy and international competition.  If our highest achieving kids are to be fully prepared, we need to keep updating our schools’ methods and modernizing what is taught.”

Corinne Mantle-Bromley, dean of the University of Idaho’s College of Education, said the centers are an important step forward in helping Idaho and other states gain a much deeper understanding of technology’s role in student learning.  Research and evaluation of research findings will help inform the education community and identify the most effective strategies for blending technology into teaching, Mantle-Bromley said.

“What makes this funding so important is the research component. We will constantly be studying new, emerging technology tools. Research findings will provide classroom teachers and school administrators with powerful information on best practices. We will work closely with teachers as we study technology and its impact on P-12 student learning,” said Mantle-Bromley.

Paula Kellerer, Ed.D., dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Counseling at Northwest Nazarene University emphasizes that blended learning is not about utilizing the latest and greatest technology in the classroom–it’s about providing personalized learning for kids.

“The ultimate objective of the centers is to improve student achievement in P-12 classrooms through the effective use of technology,” says Dr. Kellerer.  “It’s not about finding one solution that fits all, but finding many solutions that can be used at the right time for the right student.  Every student can learn.  Every student can succeed.  We are here to help teachers find resources, equip them to use those resources effectively and to share the stories of success with other teachers, with Idaho, and the Northwest.”

Idaho has significant student achievement challenges.  The state ranks 47th in the nation for the percentage of high school graduates who go on to some form of education beyond high school and 46th for the percentage of college students who progress from their freshman year to sophomore year.

“We cannot stand back and be passive observers,” says Dr. Eric Kellerer.  “We need to get in the fray.  Idaho can be the leader in ushering in a new day in teaching and learning.”

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation is a Boise-based, private family foundation committed to limitless learning for all Idahoans.  Since 1997, the Foundation has invested more than $500 million to improve education in Idaho.   For more information about the Foundation visit www.jkaf.org.  To watch a short video about how Idaho educators responded to the Khan Academy in Idaho training session in October, click here.

Northwest Nazarene University is a nonprofit Christian university located in Nampa, Idaho.  NNU offers over 60 areas of study, master’s degree programs in eleven disciplines, accelerated degree programs, concurrent credit for high school students, and a variety of continuing education credits. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, the University also offers programs online as well as in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and in cooperation with programs in 10 countries.   For more information, visit www.nnu.edu.

The University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, is home to more than 12,000 students and nearly 3,159 faculty and staff.  U-Idaho continues to be a leading place of learning in Idaho and the West.  Students from all 44 Idaho counties, 49 states (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and 73 foreign countries are enrolled at the University.  For more information visit www.uidaho.edu.

Why Doceõ?  Doceõ is the Latin word for “to teach”.