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Bethel Program Director Attends Educational Technology Summit at White House

Molly Wickam at the White House in December for the 2016 U.S. Department of Education Technology Summit.

Teaching (M.A.) Program Director Molly Wickam was invited to the White House in December to attend a two-day Advancing Educational Technology in Teacher Preparation summit. Wickam’s invitation to the exclusive event—put on by the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education—recognized Bethel’s active use of technology to “support learning and teaching through creation, collaboration, and problem solving,” Joseph South, director of the Office of Educational Technology, says in a press release.

Seated in the White House’s historic Indian Treaty Room, Wickam and over 40 other teacher education leaders from across the country heard from a variety of educational technology experts December 13–14, 2016. Among the most notable was U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell, who expanded on the importance of using technology as a teaching tool in all K–12 classrooms.

“One of the main points from the summit was to remind us that it’s so important to use active learning strategies that involve technology…we want [students] creating videos, and we want them using tools like Google Documents to collaborate with their peers,” Wickam says, also noting that she was pleased to discover Bethel’s M.A. in Teaching program is already implementing and teaching many of the promoted tactics. “But I did get some great ideas for how we can continue to improve.”

One summit concept Wickam plans to pursue is the use of “badges” to mark significant achievements in the classroom. A trend referred to as “micro credentials” in the educational technology field, these badges don’t indicate standardized accomplishment, but rather serve as growth tools to motivate and encourage students along their academic journey—similar to the way mobile fitness apps award “badges” for physical achievements.

By introducing educational leaders like Wickam to new and innovative movements happening in educational technology, the summit achieved its mission to “advance the four goals for educational technology in teacher preparation programs outlined in the 2016 National Education Technology Plan.” These goals all involve continued technology education for aspiring (or “pre-service)” teachers with the help of research-supported standards and field-wide recognition. It is an undertaking fully supported by Bethel, and Wickam says that she will continue to aim for excellence when it comes to technology use in graduate school classrooms. 

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