A Novel Approach to Higher Education Technology Training

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 17, 1999 — The dorms and labs are wired, the offices are networked, and every faculty and staff member has a PC. Now Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla., faces the same challenge as many colleges and universities nationwide — training faculty to make use of technology beyond typing letters and sending email.

To help their faculty take their technology training to the next level, Bethune-Cookman — like many other colleges and universities — participates in the Microsoft Mentor Program, an efficient and cost-effective way to train faculty in using state-of-the-art technology to develop richer learning environments for students and more efficient administrative processes for their institutions.

“Offering technology training to our faculty is on the list of priorities for our Information Technology department — but it’s a long list and we have a small staff,”
said Margaret Massey, vice president of technology and chief information officer at Bethune-Cookman.
“We could figure out a way to tackle it on our own, but we’d much rather become a Microsoft Mentor Program school. The program not only offers the resources and support we need to introduce much-needed technology skills to faculty, but also allows is to establish an ongoing effort that will create training opportunities for an unlimited number of educators.”

Launched in 1998 with 20 faculty members from League for Innovation in the Community College institutions, the Microsoft Mentor Program offers training on Microsoft Office that enables educators to develop strategies and curricula for using the latest technology to enhance teaching and learning, then share those skills with their peers. The program’s goal is to train 1,000 Microsoft Mentors, each reaching at least 20 additional faculty, which will result in the training of more than 20,000 educators by the end of the 1999-2000 school year.

Bethune-Cookman this week is hosting the first Microsoft Mentor training workshop in participation with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Executive Leadership Foundation. 12 HBCUs will participate this year, and the goal is to eventually bring training to faculty at all 105 HBCU institutions.

“Participation in the Microsoft Mentor Program is an important step for the Executive Leadership Foundation, with strong implications for the future,”
said Carl Brooks, president of the Executive Leadership Foundation.
“Much of today’s business is done on the Internet through e-commerce, and indications are that most of the business of tomorrow will be online or based on technology. Working with companies such as Microsoft enables us to prepare faculty who will educate business leaders of the future with the necessary skills for the 21st century.”

According to Massey, Bethune-Cookman has some self-taught
“technology jewels”
who are integrating technology into their classrooms. However the majority of the college’s 130 faculty need — and want — training. By training its own Microsoft Mentors, who will be able to run additional training workshops on campus, the college plans to make technology an integral part of the way faculty teach and students learn.

“We want to give our faculty what it takes to be on the cutting-edge of technology so they can appropriately infuse the latest software, Internet research or Web resources into their classrooms,”
she said.
“With the right training and support, our educators will have all the power technology has to offer at their fingertips and be able to experience more academic freedom than they have known before.”

With Microsoft Mentors to offer training and assistance, Massey envisions a campus where all course materials and school information are accessible to students via the Web. Faculty will learn how to post their syllabi; expand the learning process to include online group discussions with experts and other students; and incorporate the vast resources and research available on the Internet. In addition to benefiting students’ educational experiences, Massey said the technology training will be a key professional development tool for Bethune-Cookman faculty, allowing them to learn more efficient ways to manage their administrative tasks and enhance their own scholarly research.

“Bethune-Cookman is grateful to have the support of Microsoft and the HBCU Executive Leadership Foundation,”
said Oswald P. Bronson, Sr., president of Bethune-Cookman College.
“We are honored to be a leader in this effort and to be the site for the first training program.”

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