UAF School of Education to ensure graduates are prepared for distance learning

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 6:08 PM AKDT
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The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce continues to conduct its weekly business luncheons online. Tuesday's topic: preparing teachers for Alaska's future at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Education.

School of Education director at UAF, Amy Vinlove, discussed initiatives for the program, including recruiting and supporting Alaska Native students pursuing teaching degrees.

"We are currently at the mid-point in a nine [to] 10-year grant partnership, with some external funding from a philanthropic organization, to really try to build up those strategies and those support systems and consolidate them," Vinlove said. "This has been area where UAF has been on the forefront for almost 50 years."

Adapting to the changing times was a topic as well. The school of education is looking to better prepare their graduates for distance learning, as many teachers and students are experiencing right now through digital and assignment-based activities.

However, with varying internet connections across the state, teachers and schools will need to adjust based on accessibility.

"What are some core practices that we may need to be incorporating into our teacher preparation programs moving forward - really starting now, like this summer - in relation to making sure that our teachers that come out of our program are equipped to [not] only teach face-to-face but using distance delivery methods?" Vinlove said of some of the changes to the program, "Figuring out what your students have available to them for technology and looking for ways to bridge that digital divide to provide equity in the education, recognizing that some kids are going to have great access to high speed internet and do everything on Zoom that you ask them to."

Vinlove added, "I was talking to the assistant superintendent up in Kotzebue, and they have a community in that region where 15% of the kids have access to good internet -- and so you have to be able to accommodate this very broad range of accessibility and try to provide equity there."

The next Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Weekly Business Luncheon is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5. Colonel Benjamin Bishop, Commander, 354th Fighter Wing, will discuss the state of Eielson Air Force Base.

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