Graduates of Mercer's Tift College of Education are now more prepared than ever to meet the needs of tomorrow's classrooms.
Mercer undergraduate education students have the opportunity to receive intensive training on the best practices for integrating technology into the classroom. After completing this technology-infused teacher-preparation program, students receive InTech certification, a state-approved certification that very few universities offer.
Mercer first offered the InTech program to students two years ago using a grant received from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant was a part of government's "Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology" (PT3) program.
The program was a tremendous success. While participating in InTech training was optional, only three students didn't take advantage of the technology training last year, said Dr. Penny Elkins, co-director of the University's PT3 project and an associate professor in Mercer's Tift College of Education.
Obtaining InTech certification makes Mercer graduates more marketable, said Dr. Bruce Sliger, an associate professor of education in the College and co-director of the project.
Elkins agreed. Federal law requires all teachers to have technology certification by 2006, so many school systems are scrambling to find money in their budgets to train their teachers.
"Principals have been told they have to spend money to train their teachers. So, not only does Mercer have phenomenal graduates, but also fully trained graduates. Our students have first-hand experience on how to integrate technology into the classroom, how to teach with technology and how to improve test scores," Elkins said.
The program also benefits Mercer faculty. Ninety percent of Tift College of Education faculty have received InTech training. And graduate education students in the initial teacher certification program are given the option of receiving InTech training at Mercer as well.
The initial grant funding for the InTech program ended at the end of last academic year. But Mercer is able to continue this innovative technology training program this year because Tift College of Education received another PT3 grant in June. This $260,000 grant is allowing the University to continue to train professors and students on the latest in educational software programs.
The College of Education is also re-writing its curriculum to require all undergraduate education students to receive this important training.
Yvonne Hudgins, who graduated from Mercer with a bachelor degree in early childhood education in May, said she's grateful she was able to receive InTech certification while at Mercer.
"Technology is growing by leaps and bounds and will play a big part in the future of my students. InTech made me more aware of the many possibilities of integrating technology in the classroom," she said. "I have found that technology is a great motivator for students. Using technology is an enjoyable way for students to learn. "