Five members of a Reinhardt Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) cohort sit together conversing before class starts for the day. A large projection screen is stretched across the front of the room, with a camera pointed in their direction. It’s 2 p.m. and class has now officially started, but there’s no class instructor in sight. Within minutes, a ringing sound can be heard throughout the classroom and up pops the face of Dr. Georgann Toop, assistant professor of education, on the screen. She is miles away from her pre-service teaching students, but is able to allow them the opportunity to collaborate, interact and learn from a group of fifth graders in the STEM Academy at Clark Creek Elementary School.
“For my course EDU 565: Science Inquiry Based Learning, Skyping created an opportunity for Reinhardt’s pre-service education students from both campuses - Main and North Fulton - to come together as a community of learners to virtually visit the Clark Creek Elementary STEM Academy within Cherokee County School District (CCSD),” said Toop. “These master level education students were able to observe students in a STEM lab completing robotics lessons. Yes...we were using technology to observe students use technology to build robotics and make them animated! I felt it was critical for the pre-service students to keep up with the current changes that are taking place in technology and science education that are offered in so few schools thus far.”
With up to 80% of all jobs now being created in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the understanding, use and real-world application or integration of technological skills will play a pivotal role in student's lives; therefore, Toop has embraced the BYOLD (Bring Your Own Learning Device) Model and is incorporating more technology into her courses.
“Technology should play a vital role in meeting the needs of all our students from pre-service teachers at Reinhardt who are preparing to enter the teaching profession down to kindergartners at the elementary level—especially in the world of their future!” said Toop. “In order for our Reinhardt graduates to be successful in the workforce, we must provide them experiences with more advanced technology so that they, along with K-12 grade students, will be prepared for successful participation in our 21st Century global society.”
The hour-long Skype session gave opportunities for the Reinhardt MAT students to observe the elementary students completing their robotics projects, ask critical, thought-provoking questions of students and the STEM/classroom teachers, and for the Clark Creek teachers and students to share their expertise on STEM concepts and its real world applications.
“Within a short period of time and although miles apart, both Reinhardt and Clark Creek students went from not knowing one another to observing, interacting, learning, and collaborating with each other,” Toop said. “Skyping is a very easy way for us to collaborate with others be it talking to experts, observing students work on projects in a classroom setting, asking teachers questions or sharing ideas and creating wonderful learning experiences with educators from around the globe.”
Skyping is just one way to make education accessible through the use of technology. By modeling the implementation of Skyping in the classroom, the Reinhardt MAT students now know the power of this 21st century technology: it removes the barriers they may run into to communicate or connect to schools and classrooms within our own county or around the world and offers a plethora of learning opportunities not available in previous years.
Approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC), the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program in Early Childhood Education at Reinhardt is designed for college graduates with undergraduate degrees in fields other than education who are planning a career in the teaching profession and are seeking initial certification. Completion of the MAT program leads to a master's degree and recommendation for a Georgia Level 5 Certificate in Early Childhood (P-5) Education.
Designed for adult students, classes are offered in the evening through face-to-face or online delivery at two locations—the North Fulton Center in Alpharetta and the Main Campus in Waleska (northwestern Cherokee County). Students complete two classes (six hours) during each 8-Week Session, earning a total of 12 hours per semester. Created as a Cohort Model—one group of students takes all their courses together—the program takes three semesters (fall/spring; fall) to complete coursework, then one semester (spring) of full-time student teaching after all coursework is completed.
Founded in 1883, Reinhardt University is focused on shaping lives and building futures. As a private comprehensive university affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Reinhardt offers 40 graduate and undergraduate programs, ranging from business and education to music and theater.
Reinhardt has two locations- a residential campus in Cherokee County in Waleska, Ga., and a center focused on adults in Alpharetta, Ga., and it offers selected programs in Cartersville, Marietta, and Woodstock, Ga. Additional attractions on the Waleska campus include the Falany Performing Arts Center and the Funk Heritage Center.
For more information, please contact Reinhardt at 770-720-5526 or 1-87-REINHARDT or see the University website at www.reinhardt.edu.
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