Grant supports educators' instructional technology development

WHRO, PBS member station in Norfolk, Va., has been awarded an Enhancing Education Through Technology grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant will support PBS TeacherLine® online professional development services, which help educators in the state infuse technology effectively into their daily instructional practices. PBS TeacherLine ( is a provider of online professional development for preK-12 educators.

Through the grant, WHRO and PBS TeacherLine are providing the PBS TeacherLine ISTE Capstone Certificate Program to as many as 200 Instructional Technology Resource Teachers (ITRTs) and library media specialists in the state. The educators can enroll in the program at no charge, and if desired, earn graduate credit for program completion.

The Certificate Program is a series of research-based courses that focus on instructional technology use, and enable teachers to demonstrate their mastery of the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS-T). Program participants develop a professional digital portfolio of their work, earn credits toward salary and career advancement, and receive a joint certificate from ISTE and PBS TeacherLine documenting their proficiency in technology integration. The online graduate-level courses are facilitated by a master teacher and supported by a collaborative learning community.

More than 250 ITRTs have completed the Certificate Program previously with success. "By far the best experience I have had in the courses has been the use of the discussion boards," said Anita Harris, instructional technology specialist for Sussex County Public Schools. "I have gleaned so much knowledge from these discussions as well as tons of resources that I can share with others."

In addition, ITRTs and media specialists statewide - approximately 1,300 educators - will receive free access to PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection for continued support and training to promote 21st century learning in the classroom. Peer Connection, which recently earned the highest quality rating from the federal Government Performance and Results Act review, is an online suite of instructional strategies and tools for teacher leaders and instructional coaches who provide professional development for their peers. Featuring thousands of research-based, standards-aligned resources in preK-12 math, reading, instructional strategies, and instructional technology, Peer Connection enables ITRTs and media specialists to create customized, practical learning experiences and guide teachers in their professional growth.

Old Dominion University professors Richard Overbaugh and Ruiling Lu conducted a study on the effectiveness of PBS TeacherLine's online courses, including the ISTE Capstone Certificate Program, in Virginia. Published in the Fall 2008 issue of the Journal of Research on Technology in Education, the study showed that the courses helped teachers increase their competence and confidence in using technology to enhance teaching and learning, as well as improve their operational knowledge of state and national technology and content area standards.