Apple, JSU team up for teaching in Piedmont
by Laura Johnson
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Sep 24, 2011 | 4778 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Piedmont High School juniors use MacBooks during an American history class Friday. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Piedmont High School juniors use MacBooks during an American history class Friday. (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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The company known for putting iPhones in the palms of people around the world is sponsoring an education initiative in Calhoun County.

Jacksonville State University and Piedmont City Schools are working with Apple Inc. to develop a pilot program that will yield a national model for teaching students in all grades and in college, according to a press release from the university.

The Cupertino, Calif., computer company will provide professional development for educators at both institutions to teach them how to integrate technology into the learning process.

A partnership involving Apple and either primary or secondary schools is not unusual, but to expand that partnership to include a university is, according to Alicia Simmons, of the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. Simmons said through an email that the university hopes the “initiative will become a national model for collaboration focused on reinventing education from K-16.”

Simmons was returning Friday from California where she and about half a dozen other JSU officials met with Apple representatives Thursday.

The company has already worked with Piedmont City Schools, which last year bought Apple’s laptop computers — MacBooks — for each student in grades 4 through 12. Piedmont schools Superintendent Matt Akin said the partnership will enable JSU to train education majors to teach with new technologies, and to use those teaching skills in Piedmont’s public schools for one year.

“The whole thing is just really exciting for us as a school system,” Akin said. “It’s going to make the education that our students receive better.”

Ten education students at Jacksonville State University will be trained for the program. Those 10, who are already engaged in unpaid internships at Piedmont, will return next semester to teach alongside the schools’ existing teachers.

“That’s an advantage to us because our kids are getting double teaching,” Akin said.

By the time the student teachers leave Piedmont, they’ll have a year’s worth of experience using technology to teach in the classroom.

“These teachers will be the teachers that change the schools they go to,” Akin said.

Components of the program will be used to introduce technology-based learning in university classrooms in the colleges of English, math and arts and sciences. Akin said other components of the program will enable JSU students to provide technical support at Piedmont. Piedmont students will also be able to take college courses online.

Thursday JSU officials spoke to Apple representatives about teaching children to learn using “higher order thinking, including problem solving and critical thinking,” the university’s release states. Apple representatives also demonstrated how apps and products can be used to engage students in the learning process.

The schools’ partnership with Apple began when the company learned of a developing collaboration between the university and Piedmont schools.

“We were just looking to partner with JSU, and then Apple came to us and said were interested in this partnership too,” Akin said.

Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544.
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