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Washington State University
College of Education

December 2009

A New Year’s present from WSU

elluminate_logo-284pThe College of Education, spread as it is across four campuses, is bound to latch on to Elluminate, a desktop virtual meeting and collaboration tool that will be available for free university-wide starting spring semester.  What a boon for research teams and far-flung administrators.  And for teachers:  “Elluminate provides video, audio, Web and application sharing for faculty interested in providing courses in a real-time, online, interactive, virtual classroom environment.”

That’s a lot of adjectives. They’re backed up by one educator’s rave review of Elluminate, which notes that teachers and students are able to speak to one another via headset microphones, use direct messaging or chat, draw on a whiteboard, stream video, and share files. Students click buttons to raise their hands,  ask questions or indicate they’ve stepped away.  Sessions are recorded and archived. Perhaps most notably, Elluminate compresses data without loss of audio. Translation: Regardless of Internet connection speeds, there are no annoying delays between what’s said at one end and what’s heard at the other.

Taps for 2009
Reminisce with the New Yorker’s best-of-year lists. And ponder the past with Reuters’ decade in pictures.

Technology to the rescue

Guy Westhoff sm
Guy Westhoff

Guy Westhoff couldn’t make it to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology conference, where he was slated to receive an award for outstanding service to the group’s Teacher Education Division.  True to its mission, the association solved the problem with technology.  Guy accepted his award via a Skype video call.  (The new “next best thing to being there”?) A clinical assistant professor in Pullman, he served for four years on the association’s board.   His research efforts include using blogs as a means to increase technology integration with pre-service teachers … something the EduCoug  heartily endorses.

The expertise of another faculty member has been recognized by the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, which elected Amy Roth McDuffie to its board of directors. Amy, an associate professor in the Tri-Cities, believes passionately that classroom lessons should reflect current research and theory on how students come to understand mathematics.  She is a key  player in curriculum development at the new Delta High School.

Facebookers: Become a fan of WSUCOE
The Washington State University College of Education has had a Facebook page for less than a week, and the number of fans is growing daily.  Because fan page posts show up in their news feeds, users are finding it a lot more visible than the soon-to-be-phased-out college Facebook group that’s been online since last February.

Good experience and good vibes
converged this fall, when sport management students in Assistant Professor John Wong‘s Facility and Event Management course organized events– from bowling to poker tournaments–that raised money and collected food for charity.  The students, divided into six groups,  raked in more than $1,100 for organizations as well as 270 pounds of food for the Pullman Food Bank.  Their dollar contributions broke down thusly:  Sport Management Club, $275;  YMCA , $400; Grey “W” club, $117;  Coy McKay Fund, $257;  Pullman Parks and Recreation,  $200.

T&L folks, have a little spare time over the holidays?
Surf this: The top 101 Web sites for teachers.

A special education

grad Pavan profile
Pavan Antony waits for commencement to begin.

Many people in India don’t see the value of teaching disabled children, whose handicaps are often perceived as a sort of spiritual penalty for ancestral sins. Yet despite the lack of understanding back home for his career choice,  Pavan John Antony remains laser-focused on special education.

Pavan was one of six College of Education doctoral graduates at WSU’s fall commencement, where he was honored as the college’s highlight graduate.

So how did this determined fellow find his way from Kerala to Pullman? With the support of John Brewer, a retired WSU professor of German. John tells the story:

“I first met Pavan in 2003, when I went to India to distribute 330 wheelchairs to needy persons, a project funded by Rotary Clubs in our district. At the time Pavan was managing a school for children with disabilities. He was assigned to me to be my guide during the wheelchair distributions in seven different venues, which took at least two weeks.

Pavan Antony with kids in Kerala
Pavan Antony with kids in Kerala

“Pavan was a bundle of energy, full of ideas for raising funds and helping the children with disabilities in the school. The founder of the school suggested that Pavan would benefit greatly if he could experience what was being done for disabled children in other countries. I therefore offered to sponsor Pavan for one year at WSU, provided there was a course of study that would broaden his outlook and enhance his abilities in the special education field. Although I sponsored Pavan only for his first year, he continued his studies on the graduate level, leading to a doctorate in education.

“Pavan lived in my home for four and a half years, and I have followed his intellectual growth with deep interest. His work with Professor Paulette Mills and others in the College of Education has revolutionized his conception of special education, and I have no doubt that he will one day return to India and make substantial contributions to implementing humane, inclusive policies of education for all children, including those with special needs.”

Like so many WSU College of Education doctoral graduates, Pavan heaps praise upon faculty, including  Paulie Mills.  During the stress of prelims and dissertation writing for his Ed.D. degree, he says,  “I could call Paulie at any hour and say `Hey, I’m freaking out, I don’t know what to do.’ ”

Congrats and good luck to Pavan and to all of our fall semester grads.  For more on the pomp and circumstance, you can view commencement photos and watch the ceremony video.

Dual languages, dual accomplishments

Sometimes opportunity knocks, and sometimes it makes a phone call.

Eric with students 4
Eric Johnson with Kennewick fourth-graders.

A parent in the Kennewick School District rang up WSU Tri-Cities last year, looking for someone who might be willing to help out in Hawthorne Elementary School’s dual-language program. The query found its way to Assistant Professor Eric Johnson, a bilingual education expert who jumped at the chance to be involved in classrooms where children spend half the day studying in Spanish, half in English.  It wasn’t long before he enlisted WSU teacher preparation students to join him as volunteers and boost their career prospects in the process.  Eric is clearly a popular fellow at Hawthorne, where he banters with students in both languages. Read about the dual-language program, which is coordinated by adjunct faculty member Abby Cooper, and see more classroom photos in WSU Today.

Another feather in Eric’s professorial cap is publication of The Teaching Roadmap: A Pocket Guide for High School and College Teachers, which he co-authored with Nora Haenn.  Reports Eric: “Nora was a professor in the Arizona State University anthropology department while I was a graduate student (she’s now at North Carolina State).  We bounced ideas off each other for teaching activities while I was teaching some anthropology courses, and finally decided that we should put something together to help new instructors, since college doesn’t require you to have a teaching certificate and a lot of new professors haven’t been trained in pedagogy.  The publisher liked the idea and suggested that we cater to new high school teachers, too—which worked out well with my K-12 teaching experiences.”  Despite the title, he added, the strategies can be applied to all teaching levels.

Good Fulbright news
Tonda Liggett, another assistant professor with expertise in teaching English as a second language, has been accepted onto the Fulbright Scholars list as a potential research collaborator with  scholars abroad. That means she will get to work with researchers in her area if they make such a request within the next five years — in which case, she said, “I’ll get a grant to go work with them (wherever that might be).”

Reading matter from other edu-blogs
Study: Teacher Exchanges Are Pipeline for Bilingual Teachers.  International teacher exchanges as a  strategy for alleviating shortages are still relatively unexplored, according to a new report.
A Washington State Fight, a Nationwide Debate.  An explanation of the battle over tough new graduation requirements in math, science, speaking, and writing.