The month of April finally witnessed the ribbon-cutting of our Doceo Center lab, which is something that we have been looking forward to for a long time! The event and subsequent open house were well attended by both special guests and interested members of the University of Idaho community.
Representatives from state government, the State Board of Education, the university, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, and various colleges were in attendance, including senators and the new president of the University of Idaho. As part of the ribbon cutting, attendees had the opportunity to participate in demonstrations of laboratory technologies including interactive displays, Google Glass, tablets, and a variety of other devices, and in the few weeks that have passed since the open house, we've had a number of groups come through the lab or use it for a variety of purposes, including the advisory board for the University of Idaho library system, the Idaho Common Core teacher network, and a number of college departments and courses. In conjunction with the ribbon-cutting and open house, Doceo Center staff members were interviewed by a number of news outlets, and stories about the center have found place in both print and broadcast media.
With the lab fully operational, we are excited to expand our capacity to provide leadership in the university and the state surrounding leadership in innovative technology use for teaching and learning. In the lab, we will conduct workshops, demonstrate innovative technologies, live stream learning experiences to the web, and conduct classes with both current students and practicing teachers. Also in this lab, we will host our summer Technology and Open Education institutes, which have quickly filled up with interested teachers from all over Idaho.
As part of our efforts to become leaders in the state surrounding technology integration, we have found it necessary to develop tools for systematizing evaluations of technology for educational purposes. Our developing framework which we are calling Tech GEARS provides an in-depth and robust understanding of emerging technologies and allows experts to evaluate technologies across a number of metrics, giving decision-makers a quick and robust view of different technologies’ applicability in educational settings. The Tech GEARS framework is still in an early phase, and we are actively seeking input and feedback from educational leaders throughout the state to inform its design and presentation so that it can become a useful and meaningful tool for teachers, principals, and others.
Keeping with our pattern of extending our work outside of Idaho, we continued this month to publish and present our work through a number of prominent venues. Foremost of which was a presentation of research findings at the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) annual convention in Philadelphia, PA. Also this month, we received notification that a number of our submitted proposals had been accepted to present at the annual conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), which will be held in Jacksonville, FL in the Fall. As we present at these and other conferences, we seek to both share how we are impacting K12 teaching and learning in the state of Idaho and to gather feedback from leaders in other states to inform our ongoing work.
In these efforts, we recognize that the process of research, presentation, and publishing takes time and is influenced by a variety of factors outside of our control, including timeliness of reviewer feedback and decision-making by grant committees. As such, we find ourselves in a perpetual cycle of research, proposal, reporting, and evaluation, and this month we submitted several grant proposals and manuscripts for publication and were awarded an exploratory grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation (in conjunction with Northwest Nazarene University and New Teacher Center) to develop a plan for utilizing technology to support teacher mentoring and induction in the state of Idaho, with particular emphasis upon rural schools.
As our center continues to develop and to gain interest from both the university and schools throughout the state, we hope to continue to move forward in collaborating with schools to support research and outreach in these important areas, and we are grateful for all of the extraordinary support and interest we have received throughout these first phases of our center’s life!