Bridging the Micronesian Islands with Technologically-Trained Teachers
The College of Micronesia-FSM and the Pohnpei State Department of Education are proposing the creation of collaborative Technology Development Schools to implement a program of pre-service teacher education, "Bridging the Micronesian Islands with Technologically Trained Teachers." These two institutions will form a partnership to improve pre-service teacher training through the application and delivery of computer-assisted instruction by COM-FSM faculty, pre-service teachers, TDS demonstration teachers and principals, and appropriate Pohnpei State Department of Education support personnel in selected Technology Development School sites on the isolated island state of Pohnpei (in the former U.S. Trust Territory of Micronesia).
The partnership builds upon the heritage of effective teacher training provided by the only institution of higher education in the Federated States of Micronesia, the College of Micronesia-FSM (COM-FSM), which originated as a regional teacher training institution created to meet the countrys manpower development needs in education. Fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, COM-FSM now maintains one national (Palikir, Pohnpei) and four state campus sites with an enrollment of over 1500 full-time students. The Pohnpei State Department of Education (PDOE) provides educational services to over 9,000 students on the main and adjacent islands within the state of Pohnpei.
Collaborative planning between PDOE teachers, building principals, and administrators with COM-FSM professors and administrators has inspired technology-related revisions and improvements within the COM-FSM Bilingual Elementary Teacher Training Program. Pre-service teachers could not previously attempt to implement computer-assisted instruction with students because of limited training and no access to computer equipment or software in the schools in which they were having field experiences. We propose the use of Technology Development School sites for extensive pre-service field experiences which will utilize "mini labs" to train and mentor prospective teachers. These sites will provide supportive environments to use a wide range of interactive technology for improving classroom management, author-ing interactive multi-media lessons, creating web-based student projects, and utilizing tutorial, simulation, and application software to enhance student learning. Instructional approaches will incorporate small group, collaborative, hands-on learning with on-site "just in time learning" support over a one-year period.
1. Pohnpei State and the Needs of Its Schools--Distance, Time, and Technology
The external reality of learning and teaching in the schools of Micronesia evokes images of bright-eyed children skipping and walking to school with books and papers in their packs or hands. The internal reality of the schools which they enter would probably cause the eyes of most American adults to squint and dilate in near disbelief. Buildings rarely painted, occasionally maintained, and devoid of technology reflect more than benign neglect: they symbolize a system of traditions and cultural isolation weakening and crumbling under the weight of a global culture whose communication patterns speed with tsunami-like force over the shores of these remote Pacific islands.
Geographic and Socioeconomic Context: The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a former U.S. Trust Territory composed of the states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. The FSM is spread over 2,500,000 square kilometers of the Northern West Pacific and is comprised of 607 different islands, seventy-one of which are small inhabited dots in the immense
expanse ofthe Pacific Ocean. The more than 35,000 people living in the site where our Teachers and Technology Program is projected, Pohnpei State of Micronesia, are spread over a total land area of 127 square milesthe largest land mass in the Eastern Caroline Islands and Federated States of Micronesia. The people of Pohnpei reside on five major groups of atolls and volcanic islands.
The FSM is in a governmental Compact of Free Association with the U.S.which sets forth a unique relationship between the FSM and the United States where financial and other assistance is made in exchange for certain defense related concerns. Under the Compact, certain U.S. programs--such as the U.S. Postal System and various health and educational programs--continue to be provided to the FSM. The average annual income for the FSM is $4740 (1994 FSM Census), considerably below the level of need associated for "free lunch subsidies" in the U.S. The FSM economy is severely dependent upon external funding, especially the funds through the Joint Compact of Free Association with the U.S. (Public Law 99-239). Compact funds accounted for 50% of the FSM economy in 1996.
1.1 Gaps or Weaknesses in Services and Infrastructure
Education in Pohnpei State is struggling, partly because of natural conditions, the language and ethnic diversity of the students, the legacy of past dependencySpanish, German, Japanese, and American systems of dominance--and the unknown expectations for the future. The rumbling wave on the outer reef is the explosion of the young--10,000 one-to-16-year-olds who now compose 50% of the total population. While the US Federal and FSM National Government funding for education has declined over the past ten years, student enrollment has increased by approximately sixty percent. According to the FSM constitution, education is mandatory for all youngsters until 8th grade or age 14. But more than 65% of pupils terminate schooling at age 14, in 8th grade, or earlier. What are the future expectations of the 10,000 one-to-16-year-olds who now comprise 50% of the FSM population?Approximately 9,000 students are presently enrolled in Pohnpei State's thirty-nine (39) public elementary and secondary schools. Thirty-one (31) public elementary schools and one high school are located on the main island of Pohnpei. Six are located on the outlying coral atolls and one school on an off shore island. Schools in the FSM do not uniformly have electrical power and the question of accessibility from state centers also becomes a major improvement issue relating to professional development, support services, communication, and the ability to provide technical assistance and support at the school and classroom level. Nearly one-fifth of the schools in Pohnpei State are accessible only by boat or ship; one-fourth have no consistent source of electrical power. (All TDS sites have electrical power.) Currently there is only one microcomputer in each of 33 of the 34 public elementary schools in Pohnpei. Each of these is used for management and record-keeping purposes. The very limited use of CAI in Pohnpei occurs in one elementary and one high school.
Teacher Background and Competence: The typical FSM teacher has only an AA/AS degree, with a substantial per cent having no degree. The AA/AS degree is often not in education-related fields and beginning teachers often do not have an academic major, minor, or significant content knowledge in the academic areas to which they have been assigned to teach.
Few FSM teachers have previously received training in the use of technology. Only one-third of current PDOE teachers have experienced a 20 hour workshop in the use of word processing, data base, and spreadsheets. The 1998 needs assessment of Pohnpei State school administrators identified getting up-to-date knowledge of the latest educational technology as the second greatest staff development need of teachers in the school system. The current PDOE five-year Strategic Plan has no explicitly stated goals and objectives related to instructional technology, primarily due to their having had no instructional technology coordinator for the last eight months. Planning for this Teachers and Technology proposal brought forth the sharing of a Strategic Technology Plan by COM-FSM with PDOE to further assist their long range planning and development in the area of technology.
Performance of Students in the Educational System
The FSM National Standardized Tests (NST) are being administered for the fifth time in the Spring of 1999 and are beginning to show trends and academic levels of students. Currently, the NST assesses only English and Mathematics at 4th, 6th, 10th and 12th grade levels. Details of student achievement data from the NST indicate that students are performing well below3 to 4 grade levels-- their international peer group. All indicators--the NST, entrance test data from the COM FSM, stories from businessmen and colleges and universities where Micronesians are in attendance--provide a picture of students who are, on average, significantly behind their age peer groups in the U.S. Technology-mediated and computer-assisted instruction offers the possibility for higher levels of motivation and achievement by FSM students.Teacher Preparation and the College of Micronesia-FSM
The only institution of higher education in the FSM, COM-FSM, originated in 1963 as a regional teacher training institution created to meet the countrys manpower development needs in education. Fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, it now maintains one national (Palikir, Pohnpei) and four state campus sites with an enrollment of over 1500 full-time students. COM-FSM is currently training 60 pre-service teachers in its 64 credit hour program in Associate of Arts in Elementary Education and 14 more prospective teachers in its 3rd Year Certificate in Education Program. A fourth year program in conjunction with the University of Guam was approved in 1998 and provides a 125 credit hour program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Education.
The current (1999) COM-FSM Strategic Technology Plan has within it the following goal which provides the basis for its commitment to the "Bridging the Micronesian Islands with Technologically-Trained Teachers" Program: Objective I-4 states "Provide staff, faculty, students, and administrators training and information on the management and effective use of technology." (Pg.1)
The college has five (5) networked computer labs with 128 microcomputers in which pre-service teachers have access. But the current pre-service teacher education program has required prospective teachers to complete only a three (3) credit hour course in Computer Literacy and has provided minimal, if any, experiences with computer-assisted instruction. None of the current COM-FSM education faculty have been trained in the design and use computer-assisted instruction. There has been no application of CAI in field experiences in K-12 classroom settings due to both a lack of training at COM-FSM and availability of computers in PDOE practicum school settings. It is within this context that we propose "Bridging the Micronesian Islands with Technologically-Trained Teachers," a program designed to significantly increase both course and practicum pre-service teacher experiences in the design and application of computer-assisted instruction.
2. Project Design2.1 The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
The main goal of the "Bridging the Micronesian Islands with Technologically-Trained Teachers" program is to provide advanced computer-assisted instruction training to 74 pre-service elementary school teachers, the five COM-FSM Education Division faculty members who teach and supervise the pre-service program, ten PDOE demonstration teachers and five principals who will mentor them in their five Technology Development School (TDS) practicum sites, and the five Pohnpei State Department of Education Curriculum Specialists who will then initiate efforts for extension of the program of mentoring and CAI to future TDS sites in Pohnpei and other states of the FSM (which might be expanded through Implementation Grant resources and support in subsequent years).
To demonstrate to pre-service teachers effective uses of CAI in classrooms with regard to the following:
The Teachers and Technology Program will be evaluated by its ability to train, support, and sustain the use of CAI by program participants, particularly pre-service teachers. This will be demonstrated by: a)participant grades indicating the successful completion of the equivalent of twelve (12) credit hours in instructional technology b)teaching portfolio projects created by participants c)records of classroom observations by COM-FSM faculty and TDS demonstration teachers d)participant journals detailing their experiences using CAI e)mentor surveys from COM-FSM faculty and participating TDS teachers f) instruc-tional technology course evaluation feedback g)records of participant interview and questionnaire data.
2.2 The extent to which the proposed project is part of a comprehensive effort to improve teaching and learning and support rigorous academic standards for students.
Planning and consultation for the Teachers and Technology program included selected COM-FSM academic administratorsincluding the Vice-President for Instructional Affairs, Education Division faculty members, the Coordinator of Staff Development at Pohnpei State Department of Education (PDOE), and the principals from five PDOE elementary schools. These five building principals volunteered their schools to serve as Technology Demonstration Schools for placement of COM-FSM pre-service teachers with experienced exemplary teachers who would mentor effective instructional practices with them.
As a result of this planning and consultation, COM-FSM has revised its current Bilingual Teacher Education Program to integrate twelve credit hours of specialized instructional technology into coursework which will occur in the second year course, ED 210, Introduction to Teaching, and within Third Year Certificate Program courses in ED 330, Classroom Methods, ED 301aBilingual Language Arts Methods, ED 301bBilingual Reading Methods, and ED 392Practicum and Seminar. In the fourth year of the B.A. in Education program, taught cooperatively with the University of Guam, a twelve credit hour Internship or Teaching Practicum, will provide the major focus for CAI strategies in TDS sites. In addition, cohort support groups of pre-service teachers will be assigned to COM-FSM faculty members to enhance program affiliation and retention. COM-FSM faculty will be assigned to specific Technology Development School sites as part of their faculty load to provide mentoring, promote peer coaching, and supervise lessons, practica, CAI materials development, and internships with TDS teachers and pre-service teacher participants. TDS site principals and ten demonstration teachers will attend COM-FSM for a rigorous and intensive CAI program of two (2) three credit courses in both fall and winter semesters, as well as two structured, "hands-on," intensive 2 week workshop courseseach consisting of at least 40 contact hours and conducted during the months of December and April (when PDOE schools are not open).These workshops will be taught primarily by the project coordinator and COM-FSM 's Title III staff who have backgrounds in both technology and the four specified content areas. Pre-service teachers, COM-FSM Education Faculty, and PDOE TDS personnel will be asked to develop a technology portfolio which demonstrates their technology and content knowledge in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts or other areas of specialization. The workshops will include: word processing, spreadsheets, database, desktop publishing, multi-media presentations, lab maintenance, evaluation of tutorial, application, and multi-media creation software, WWW: Internet research , Web Page creation, ICQ, and Email.
Portfolios must include:
Projects demonstrating each of the following technology skills and integrating one of the content areas: Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts.