Gardner-Webb’s School of Education Takes Advantage of Technology to Benefit Future Teachers

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University Partners with Web-Based Solutions Group, Teachscape

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Gardner-Webb University’s School of Education is excited about a partnership with the group Teachscape that enables undergraduate students—the teachers of tomorrow—to take advantage of web-based programs that allow for textbook-free learning.  Teachscape was introduced to students for the first time this semester.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Teachscape,” said Dr. Kelly Taylor, assistant professor and chair of middle grades education for GWU’s School of Education.  “We are actually the first university in the nation to be integrating Teachscape the way we are, as we started it with our very first class of students as they entered our teacher education program – their introductory course.”

Teachscape, based in San Francisco, Calif., is a leader in delivering web-based solutions and expert services to improve teaching practice, launch a textbook-free initiative, and prepare students for success in the teaching field.  According to its website, since 1999 Teachscape has worked with schools and school districts, charter networks, universities and state education departments to measurably and continuously improve the effectiveness of educators to produce gains in student achievement.  Teachscape’s partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford University, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“We think it’s so much better than a textbook.  That’s why we felt comfortable letting go of our books and joining Teachscape.  It enables us to discuss it in theory in the classroom and talk about ways to apply it – something they wouldn’t see in action if we were just using a textbook,” explained Taylor.

School of Education students are using the Teachscape’s Video Reflect and the Learn Piece components.  Reflect is a video-based platform, through which students can use their iPads along with the Teachscape mini kit to capture video of them teaching.  This way both the instructor and the student can follow their progress because students can record themselves every time they teach and then upload it to Teachscape.  “This enables them to develop a self-reflecting practice and assess their strengths and weaknesses and then we can give our feedback,” Taylor said. “Once we’ve assessed strengths and weaknesses, we put students through the learn sideThis is the full professional development piece that is vital to continuing learning and becoming a life long learner.”

The Learn component includes online courses with embedded video of practicing teachers who use research-based practices in their classroom.  This helps students actually see content and application all in one place.  It also allows for communities to be set up online by both professors and students.  For example, a student is able to take one of their videos and share it with a group of learners within the community for feedback, as well as with their own peers.

“I was nervous in the beginning of the process,” said senior Caitlyn Bynum of Gastonia, N.C.  “However, as I got familiar with the program, including hands-on assignments, the video aspect helped with my progress and I became comfortable.  I feel like this will definitely take us to the next level.  Not only does it have the information from the textbook on the website, it has the video and graphics that help you better understand what you’re learning.”

Taylor believes the GWU School of Education can broaden their horizons through Teachscape, and she can definitely see the potential for utilization of the tool outside of her department. “There could be a future for this in other departments at Gardner-Webb, perhaps the GOAL (Greater Opportunities for Adult Learners) program or even the School of Business,” she shared.

More information about the GWU School of Education is available at 704-406-4402.  Teachscape can be visited online at teachscape.com.