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Learning today to teach for tomorrow: A new approach to teaching our teachers

July 13, 2015

If you walk into the Kennedy Center on the campus of Dakota State University, you will find both digital and traditional bulletin boards featuring an abundance of different topics. One highlights the accomplishments of students within the College of Education, which makes its home in the Kennedy Center. Another touts some of the projects Teachers of Tomorrow, a student organization based on teaching, are completing and some of the benefits of being part of the club. You will then see a board that has a big tablet on it, made out of a paper. A blend of both traditional and digital. Scan the QR codes and you will either be taken to an educational app that was handpicked by DSU students or to a video of teacher education students reviewing some of their favorite learning apps.

Educating today’s elementary and high school students takes on a whole new dimension with the availability of technology to almost every individual. These students have grown up with technology, they are the digital natives. They expect technology not only in their downtime at home, but in their school experiences as well. 

“School districts are continually investing in technology. At DSU, we strive to prepare our students to be able to integrate this technology in meaningful ways in the classroom,” said College of Education Instructor, Kevin Smith. “We believe providing hands-on experiences with the latest technology tools coupled with sound integration strategies, is crucial for preparing teachers for the classroom of today.”

Graduates from the College of Education earn a K-12 technology endorsement along with their major, and are challenged in their courses to explore a variety of engaging ways to integrate technology in the classroom. Effective use of technology creates a more relatable and robust learning experience for their students.

“Today’s classrooms have the potential to be exciting places – places where teachers and students work together, where students learn with and from one another, and where access to a universe of knowledge can be available at the touch of a button,” said Dr. Gale Wiedow, Dean of the College of Education.

“The creation of this type of classroom, this type of learning environment, remains the responsibility of the teacher.  At DSU we take great pride in, and spend an inordinate amount of time in creating a curriculum infused with technology that supports good teaching.”

Wiedow also pointed out that public and private school administrators recognize the quality of both DSU’s programs and graduates, and they often compete to hire DSU College of Education graduates.

Building on the importance of technology in education, the college also decided that technology can help those who were place-bound and cannot come to campus to obtain a degree. For the last two years, the Elementary Education/Special Education degree has been available online. With an expanded reach, the degree has grown rapidly and helps those who have other commitments earn their teaching degree while caring for a family or keeping their current job.  Students in the online ELED/SPED program still complete all the same requirements as those students in the on-campus program, including participation in a yearlong student teaching residency in their area.

“The DSU online elementary/special education program has allowed me to gain the advanced skills required by schools, while ensuring that I feel like an essential part of College of Education. The professors utilize a wide range of technology to ensure we receive a similar experience to those on campus,” said Heather Maschino, a senior Elementary Education/Special Education major. 

Maschino added that whether she is watching a recorded in-class lecture, voiced-over slideshow, or talking to professors via Skype, professors strive to ensure students master the content, while holding them to the highest standards.

“Professors have gone above and beyond, to ensure placements are providing me with hands-on experiences, and focus on important aspects that help develop a quality and effective twenty-first century education,” said Maschino.

As the need for teachers in South Dakota continues to grow, the ability to fill those jobs with qualified individuals becomes crucial. The School Administrators of South Dakota (SASD) recently released a report suggesting that a relatively large number of teaching positions currently remain unfilled for the coming school year.

Wiedow stated that DSU continues to work hard to provide quality teachers for the increasing number of vacancies that exist, and will continue to exist, in area schools. The College of Education at DSU actively recruits and vigorously supports students that have a commitment to the future of education and who have a passion for working with PreK-12 students.

“To paraphrase a quote from a recent film titled ‘TEACH’ - teaching is not a job, it’s a mission,” said Wiedow. “Teaching touches the future of literally every child in every chosen profession.  Only by being engaged in a school that employs quality teachers can today’s students meet the needs of tomorrow’s world. At DSU, we are committed to preparing teachers for the future.”

For more information on DSU education degrees, visit these pages: