Thanks to a generous gift from the estate of the late Robert Austin, the Center for Educational Technology (CET) at Anderson University will be the home of the Robert and Marjorie Austin Education Technology Laboratory. The new laboratory features a faculty development area, a student exploratory area, and a state-of-the-art electronic classroom center.
“Anderson University commits itself to offering stellar academic programs,” said Dr. Marie Morris, vice-president for Academic Affairs and Dean. “It has long been the desire of our faculty to prepare students well to enter the workforce in their chosen field of study. To achieve our academic goals we must stay on the forefront of technology and pedagogical approaches. For these reasons, we are blessed with the generous support provided to develop the Robert and Marjorie Austin Education Technology Laboratory. Through this exciting new learning space our students will shine among their peers in the “hands-on” preparation they will receive.”
[Above photo left to right: Robert L. Coffman, vice-president for Advancement; President James L. Edwards; Mike and Terri Austin; Diana Ross, professor of Education; and Janice Fulkerson, interim dean of the School of Education.]
“We are so grateful to the Austin family for their generous gift that enabled us to create this education technology lab for the professors and students in the School of Education,” said Dr. Janice Fulkerson, interim dean of the School of Education. “It has allowed us to change the design of our lessons and the way we deliver instruction to our students. It has given these future teachers a wonderful opportunity to integrate technology into their teaching and learning and connect to the global community in a more meaningful way.”
“This gift comes at an important time as more schools are requiring teachers they hire to have significant skills in technology to enhance their teaching,” said Dr. Diana Ross, professor of Education. “In fact, Indianapolis Public Schools recently announced that all of its high school students will be issued netbooks at the start of the school year. Our graduates must know what that means for instruction in their classrooms.”
According to Ross, the gift will ensure that Anderson University education majors will have access to state-of-the-art instructional technology to prepare them for the real world of teaching.
"One of the concerns I have had is our ability to prepare prospective teachers to use technology in their classroom," Ross said. "Information technology and its accompanying equipment are widely used in school systems, and our students who are becoming teachers and administrators in those systems should have access to technology that they will use in their future jobs."
Jeffrey Trotter, instructor of Education at AU, said the new technology lab can help teachers prepare for a new generation of learners.
“The technology laboratory is a place where the School of Education can provide our education students a better opportunity to observe and develop the skills necessary to be effective in today’s classrooms,” he said. “Students know and use technology in many ways that can be transferred to the classroom. They are learning differently and we must respond to that.”
According to Tom Harrington, academic support specialist at Anderson University, professional development will be crucial to show students and faculty not only how to work the equipment, but also how to implement it effectively.
“What you see next to me is a pretty impressive piece of equipment," Harrington said, pointing to a SMART Board. "But that’s all it is until it comes alive in the classroom with a skilled teacher. It’s how you use the interactive board, not the piece of equipment itself; and to do that well, you need training and support.”
The Education Technology Laboratory represents collaboration at Anderson University between Information Technology Services (ITS), the Center for Educational Technology, and the School of Education. The project was spearheaded by Harrington, Trotter, and ITS Director Cindy Smith.
According to Ross, while the gift was earmarked for the School of Education, the center will serve all AU students and faculty. Faculty members and students can arrange to have individualized training or develop multimedia courseware for their classes.
The Technology Learning Center is a part of the $110 million Dreams. Discovery. Direction. campaign for Anderson University. The campaign is the largest fundraising effort in the university’s history. To date the campaign has raised $97 million. Major components of the campaign include $51 million for capital projects, $34 million for endowment, and $25 million for operational support.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.