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Professional Development

SUNY Enters Phase 4 of Educator Tech Infusion Training

A project to help faculty and staff learn how to use online instructional techniques begun in 2012 at the State University of New York (SUNY) is deep into its fourth phase. The Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) provides an online community and incentives to encourage people within the SUNY system of colleges and universities to embrace "tech-infused pedagogy."

A major aspect of the work is participation in a Google+ community, where people can post their ideas and questions and get help from others who have already developed mastery.

Participants register to join the TOEP community, complete the self-paced online "Lifelong Learning discovery activities" and explore at least three technology tool "clusters," such as blogs & wikis, mobile apps and social media.

In this latest phase, those who finish the activities by April 1, 2016, earn digital badges and can pursue other kinds of incentives through a peer review process. That includes professional development awards "valued at $300" or iTunes cards.

The work was initially funded through two rounds of "innovative instruction technology grants " awarded through the SUNY provost's office. Now it's supported by the SUNY Center for Professional Development, the University at Buffalo (where TOEP originated) and Binghamton University, as well as through a campus membership fee structure. The current roster of institutions participating encompasses 19 schools.

A recent event led by Cherie van Putten, an instructional designer for the Center of Learning and Teaching at Binghamton and a project lead on the initiative, introduced TOEP to educators at her institution.

"I want instructors to know that this exists and hopefully they will join," van Putten said in a recent student newspaper article. "Even if they are not registering and taking part in our community, at least they know that there is that resource out there for them when they need any information."

She added that the skills acquired by participants are meant to be integrated into the classroom. "It's not just about the technology," van Putten said. "It's about ways to serve the students better, to increase their learning and to engage them more."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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