Monday, February 4, 2008

BSU Teacher Education IT Environment

Ball State Teachers College requires all teacher educator students to use Apple laptops. Here is the rationale (retrieved from Teachers College website)

1. Why Laptops in Teacher Education?
  • Access to computing in all contexts of the academic experience. Teacher education majors are a mobile group. They need access to computing in their courses, at home, and in the field experiences, which includes their student teaching.
  • Control of one's own computing destiny. A laptop is one's personal information infrastructure. All their course work, from documents to very large video files, can be taken wherever they need it. Students will be in charge of their own infrastructure and will grow in technology competence because of it.
  • Customized uses in teacher education coursework. Various courses in the teacher education program require unique uses of computers. Laptops give faculty and students the freedom to experiment with computing and to explore how it affects teaching and learning without the confines of a stationary lab.
  • For further exploration. Many teacher education programs around the country are requiring laptops in teacher education. Through the BSU PT3 project, we have already been experimenting with laptop use in teacher education courses. It is also a trend in K-12 schools for which there are many benefits.

2. Why a Requirement for Laptops?
  • Digital portfolios. All teacher education majors are now required to produce a digital, Web-based portfolio to represent their competence with teaching and learning. To better facilitate this in university instruction, faculty need to be assured that all of their students have the best tools to complete the portfolio work in university classrooms and at home.
  • All students on equal footing. Our goal is to saturate the teacher education program with advanced computing and to make sure that all students have the same opportunities. This recommendation assures faculty that no student is left out.
  • Support and infrastructure. With a large number of laptop-owning students, we can leverage the size of the BSU teacher education program to specialized support services and better information systems design. Computer vendors can design specialized support services knowing they have a fixed number of purchases per year. BSU can negotiate better deals on the purchase price when working with one vendor. We are also tuning our information infrastructure to take advantage of the anticipated critical mass of students who bring to class a state-of-the-art computer.
  • Promote technology competency in the teaching profession. With each teacher education major owning a laptop, Ball State University makes clear it believes that computers are an indispensable tool for teachers. The sooner teachers take ownership of this idea—physical and professional—the sooner they can influence how children learn with computers.
3. Why Apple Macintosh Computers?
  • Lower cost. With its built-in Firewire ports, iSight camera, and integrated wireless card, the MacBook is $300-$1000 less expensive than similarly equipped laptops from other vendors.
  • Tuned for digital media. Digital media is revolutionizing how teachers represent learning and how they design their teaching. The features that the MacBook and MacBook Pro possess are exactly what future teachers need to be exploring: digital video (via iMovie and iDVD), digital imaging (via iPhoto), and advanced Web publishing (via OS X and WebDAV servers on the BSU campus).
  • Form factor. The size and structure of the MacBook and MacBook Pro are designed for the physical rigors of university life. These laptops are small enough to fit on a lecture desk yet they possess a bright, easy-to read display. They have all the connections most commonly used (networking, peripheral ports, microphone, speakers, camera, etc.) built in, so no cards or additional devices are needed.
  • Wireless connectivity. Apple was the first computer manufacturer to integrate wireless (802.11b/g/n) networking into their product line. Without any configuration needed, students can access the Internet from anywhere on Ball State's wireless campus.
  • Apple's strengths in teacher education and K-12 schools. Apple's history in education dates back to the early 1980s, when they sponsored the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) Project, which was a 10-year study of teacher practice with computers. ACOT is still considered the most important, long-term study of teaching and learning with computers. Apple "gets" teacher education and K-12 computing. Their solutions are designed for professionals in these areas.
  • Internet and industry standards. With the newest Macintosh operating system, OS X, Apple has leveraged the industry-standard Unix operating system to its easy-to-use Macintosh user interface. The result is an incredibly powerful and open-source platform with which software developers can freely design new applications. Also, OS X will run the tens of thousands of educational applications that already exist in K-12 schools.

For more information about Apple's philosophy on laptops in teacher education, see:

For more information about Apple's philosophy on laptops in education, see:

For more information about Apple's initiatives on technology in teacher education, see:

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