UHV education faculty offers free symposium, forms task force to help teachers better reach virtual learners

June 12, 2010 at 1:12 a.m.

Today's students are virtual learners who use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube and instant messaging to communicate and learn from each other, yet many teachers don't use these new technologies in their classrooms.

"We need to prepare teachers not for the classroom of the 1950s, but for the classroom of the 2050s," said Jane Devick-Fry, literacy studies program coordinator for the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education & Human Development.

Faculty members in the school are positioning themselves to be leaders in the emerging field of new literacies with the formation of a New Literacies Task Force that is sponsoring a free summer symposium in two cities later this month.

The Virtual Literacy & Learning Across Educational Settings Summer Symposium 2010 will take place June 29 at the University of Houston System at Cinco Ranch, 4242 S. Mason Road in Katy, and June 30 in the University Center Multi-Purpose Room at the UHV main campus, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. in Victoria.

The symposium will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at both locations and will feature hourlong workshops about topics ranging from virtual science literacy circles and different models of communication, to how to use podcasts and videoconferencing. Students, teachers, administrators, counselors, business leaders and others interested in learning in the 21st century are invited to attend either symposium, Devick-Fry said.

Discussion about new literacies and how faculty in the UHV School of Education & Human Development could provide research and professional development in the area began shortly before Lawrence Rossow was hired as dean of the school in the fall. He formed the New Literacies Task Force.

"We want people to know that the UHV School of Education & Human Development is on the cutting edge of this new field," Rossow said. "A lot of today's students are more comfortable using new technology than their teachers, and we've got to change that so that they can teach more effectively."

Faculty members have begun conducting research about new literacies, collecting data and sharing information with UHV education students, Devick-Fry said.

They have started to provide new literacies professional development training for teachers and will be applying for an education technology grant.

The goal is to eventually create a new literacies center as a resource for educators.

"We need to not only help current teachers learn how to use this new technology, we also need to show them that it's not that hard to use and empower them to use it in their classrooms," task force member Carol Klages said.

For more information about the summer symposium or the New Literacies Task Force, contact Devick-Fry at fryj@uhv.edu or 361-570-4283.

Teachers can earn six continuing education units by attending either symposium.



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