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Release: Immediate

UI education students going 'World Wide' in their job searches

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Future teachers from the University of Iowa College of Education are showcasing their high-tech skills to potential employers in a novel way, thanks to a new effort this fall to prepare teachers for the classroom.

"The Electronic Portfolio Project" is a new initiative to provide students in the teacher education program in the College of Education with training, skills and resources to make their academic and professional abilities available to employers on the World Wide Web.

The project is directed by Rebecca Anthony, teacher placement coordinator for the Educational Placement Office, and John Achrazoglou, coordinator of the College's Computer Resources Laboratory.

The new effort is believed to be the first organized attempt to train education students in the technical skills they will need to lead classes full of computer-savvy youngsters while also helping future teachers expand their job prospects.

"Schools expect our teachers to be able to walk into the classroom and use the new technology," Anthony says. "We want to make sure our teacher-candidates have all the skills they need to be excellent teachers."

"The beauty of this is you can demonstrate your professional and academic skills while also showcasing your technical skills," she says.

The new program is the latest in the college's 10-year history of providing education students, who want to earn certification to teach, with technology training. In 1986, the college began requiring students to take a technology course, called "Introduction to Microcomputing for Teachers," one of the first teacher training programs in the country to require such work.

Achrazoglou has been expanding the technical scope of that class over the past decade as computer technology has evolved. Elements of the Electronic Portfolio Project were offered on a limited basis in spring and summer semesters of 1997.

All students in the microcomputing class will learn the skills for using the World Wide Web this fall.

Students will learn elements of multi-media software and technology, software for preparing pages on the World Wide Web, as well as how to use scanners, editors, cameras and other equipment to be on the cutting edge of the Internet.

Anthony says a portfolio is the perfect practical experience for future teachers to learn the technical skills they will need in their classrooms.

For education students and teachers, a portfolio is a record that documents the academic and employment history of teacher candidates as well as showcases teaching philosophy, abilities, activities, and examples of past work completed by students supervised by the candidate.

By putting it on the Web, employers can get an idea of candidates' potential with the stroke of a few keys. But they also get an idea of how well candidates can use the latest technology, a continually important factor for teachers.

"Web portfolios are a great indicator of skills," Achrazoglou says. "This is not something you do and put away for a couple of years. It requires constant updating and employers will be able to see who has those skills and who doesn't."

Anthony emphasizes that the portfolio pages will be kept professional and won't be personal sites for students to post irrelevant material. Such personal pages, if done badly, are greeted with scorn from many Internet users.

Students receive guidelines to keep them from posting material that is irrelevant to a job search or that doesn't present a professional attitude toward teaching.

Anthony says students who stray outside the guidelines will only be hurting themselves.

"This is going to be used to showcase the professional skills of students," she says. "If employers see that the students have unrelated or personal information on their electronic sites, they're going to look unprofessional and it will diminish their chances of making a good impression."

Achrazoglou says keeping up with the latest technology is a high priority with students, who have asked for updates in the microcomputing course.

"They know how important it is when they get out into the schools to be able to navigate the Internet and be on top of technology," he says. "We don't want students to be victims of technology, but masters of technology."