Coppin gets $275,000 for technology center AT&T gift to be used to train teachers for the Internet

April 01, 1997|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

Coppin State College has been given more than a quarter-million dollars by the philanthropic arm of AT&T Corp. to create a center to train city teachers in the technology touted as the future of American education.

The gift, worth about $275,000, is one of the largest in the history of the West Baltimore campus, and it is the largest donation ever made by the New Jersey-based AT&T Foundation to a historically black college.

"It's going to be very helpful," Coppin State President Calvin W. Burnett said. "We said to them that one of our greatest needs was to attract funds for our teacher-education classes. Not many funds are coming in for the training of teachers."

The Technology Center for Education, to be housed at Coppin's Tawes College Center, will be built around 13 computers donated by AT&T worth $75,000, and $200,000 over three years to wire the computers, set up software and hire a director to lead training.

The center is intended to train the approximately 300 Coppin State students majoring in primary or secondary education -- nearly one-tenth the 3,200 student body -- and also serve as a place to teach public school instructors how to use new technology in the classroom. An emphasis will be placed on using the Internet, taking advantage of the World Wide Web and infusing material from a variety of media into everyday course work.

"We have all these Net days where we wire all the schools, but the teachers don't have the adequate training to make use of that," AT&T spokesman Ritch Blasi said. "We're concentrating a lot of our philanthropy in these areas to augment the current school curriculum."

Coppin State will serve as the first Maryland site for the AT&T Learning Network Academy, which offers half-day training sessions on the Internet for public school teachers, administrators and libraries.

"Technology certainly has become the wave of the 21st century," said Marcia Brown, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union. "We're going to have to become more apt in the Web and using the computer more competently."

State and federal officials have made a strong push toward adopting high-powered technology in the classroom, and the possibilities of the new computer-based technology are seemingly endless. Yet many educators have expressed frustration that so much useless information is on the World Wide Web. The new center intends to provide teachers with enough training that they can sort what is at hand from what is handy, college officials said.

"It's a field changing so rapidly that we need to have constant retraining," said Provost Herman Howard, the college's chief academic official. "It's much easier dealing with the younger people, who are not so much worried about making mistakes, than with the older people, such as myself, who might be more threatened.

"We're trying to do this in a nonthreatening way," he said.

Pub Date: 4/01/97

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