Notes from the Field: TLINC at the University of New Mexico

Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Featured, TLINC | 2 comments

Since 2009, the University of New Mexico’s College of Education (UNM) has been a partner in NCTAF’s Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC®) project. Through TLINC, our college has been working to support our teacher education programs with increased collaboration, both online and face-to-face, and with added technology resources. Early efforts to integrate technology had been challenging because some faculty members and even some students were reluctant to adopt new technologies or new uses for now-familiar technologies, such as smartphones. However, with the initial infrastructure-building behind us, we are beginning to see a greater rate of interest in the TLINC project.

UNM has three active online communities of student teachers along with their faculty members in edWeb.net, the professional social network geared towards educators that is used as part of the TLINC program. We are pleased that these communities draw their membership from different parts of the UNM College of Education. The first group draws its members from the Dual Licensure Program, which includes Special Education with Elementary Education. The second group includes Elementary Education students, and the third includes Secondary Education students. We believe that the collaboration encouraged by TLINC is really working because despite the fact that there are other online platforms in which students and faculty are expected to work, student teachers have begun generating their own content on edWeb.net—posing questions and starting discussions—and sharing their experiences.

In the fall of 2011, with TLINC resources and mobile devices provided through a NCTAF-Qualcomm Wireless Reach grant, the College of Education has begun to integrate TLINC’s core concept of technology-enhanced collaboration, into the College of Education as a whole. We have linked TLINC communities on edWeb.net into the College of Education’s Field Services Portal, a portal that uses an algorithm to match Student Teachers with Cooperating teachers and has over 2000 regular users across New Mexico.

The mobile devices have enabled us to examine how students are using social networking on-the-go. The students use the devices to record themselves in classroom, to connect to edWeb.net, and to gather resources. We have found that there is a greater use of tablet devices than smartphones; this may be because many students already own a personal smartphone and are reluctant to use a second device.

It is exciting to see faculty and student interactions and postings on the edWeb.net communities. UNM is committed to making sure that our students have the resources they need even after they graduate and go out into the classroom. We see great value in TLINC work as it is geared toward the success of recent graduates.

We are very happy to see our faculty and students thinking and interacting outside of structured courses. Our efforts are, we believe, beneficial not only for our students and graduates, but also to the growing research knowledge base on technology and social networking in teacher preparation and educator development.

Author

Brittany Padilla is a Professional Intern for the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. She serves as administrator for our TLINC 1.0 and 2.0 online communities and supports various other initiatives at the College of Education.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Brittany and everyone at UNM!
    In reading your post, I was reminded of the idea of ‘resistance’ to using technology. We may assume that this generation takes this up readily, but we have also learned that using technology for personal uses may be perceived differently than using technology for learning/professional reasons. There seems to be a difference here. It helped us think about how to address issues of resistance, and ways to support people’s use in their professional world. We needed to address this explicitly. It was not uncommon for our students/teachers/faculty to think of using technology as one more thing to do instead of a way to make their communication life easier. This led us to think about the purpose and usefulness of what we asked them to do via the technology.
    Sounds like you have an active ‘on line’ community and this is exciting. It would be interesting to hear more about who monitors and supports this community, and about some of the discussions that users initiate on their own.

  2. Hello! At the University of Central Oklahoma we have seen similar reactions to individuals using technology in professional settings. I agree with Mary. There seems to be a major difference in individuals accessing online communities for personal v. professional reasons. Many of our recent conversations have revolved around relevance. How relevant is the information to what these individuals are doing daily in the classroom? How can we make the information provided online so impactful that individuals cannot ignore how helpful it is to them? We believe that once our students realize how valuable the information is to what they are doing every day then they will access these online learning communities frequently. For us, many individuals immediately recognized the value, while a few are more reluctant. Some of these who are reluctant have told us that technology is simply “not their thing.” I believe that in today’s world, it will become more difficult to “opt out” of technology.

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