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2009 News Releases

Two projects of Longwood technology institute chosen for statewide awards

May 21, 2009

Dr. Linda Townsend, Rebecca Bowen and Dr. Mano Talaiver accept two awards from Eric Rhoades and Patrick Dexter. Longwood ITTIP representatives (from left) Dr. Linda Townsend, Rebecca Bowen and Dr. Mano Talaiver accept two awards from the VAMSC, presented by awards chairman Eric Rhoades (far left) and VAMSC president Patrick Dexter (far right). Doug Garcia, Virginia assistant secretary of education, is second from left.

Two projects of Longwood University's Institute for Teaching through Technology & Innovative Practices (ITTIP) have been selected for awards from the Virginia Math & Science Coalition (VAMSC).

"Digispired: Digital Inspiration for Interactive Game Design and Programming," a game design project for middle school students, and the "Expanding Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Career and Technical Education" (ESTEMCaTE) project, which offered professional development for secondary teachers, received the VAMSC's 2009 Programs That Work awards, presented May 12 in Richmond. The ITTIP was the only organization that received more than one award among the eight awards.

The awards are for "exemplary programs for which there is evidence of a positive impact on student on teacher learning." The award for Digispired was one of three given for three student programs, and the award for ESTEMCaTE was one of five for teacher education programs. The ITTIP is directed by Dr. Manorama Talaiver.

"Dr. Tailaver utilizes the best learning theories and practices as she influences positive learning outcomes for students and teachers," said Longwood President Patricia Cormier. "She is a remarkable innovator and a model leader for 21st century thinking. She is more than worthy of these outstanding recognitions."

Digispired, a three-year project in its third year, is training 82 middle school students from six school systems (Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Halifax and Prince Edward counties, Hopewell and Petersburg). Many of the students are from low-income or rural backgrounds. Partners in the project, funded by an $891,000 National Science Foundation grant, have included Virginia State University, the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium (SVRTC), and the Science Museum of Virginia.

"When the students create the games, they focus on three science areas - nutrition, exercise, and environmental conservation - and this summer they also will learn about substance abuse," said Dr. Talaiver.

ESTEMCaTE, a one-year project that ended recently, sought to help 23 teachers from four school divisions (Prince George and Sussex counties, Hopewell and Martinsville) deepen their content knowledge, explore real-word applications, and change their instructional practices. The project, funded by a grant of nearly $142,000 from the Virginia Department of Education, included face-to-face and online courses. Dr. Talaiver wrote the proposal for the grant in collaboration with Longwood's College of Education and Human Services and the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences. Other partners were the Virginia Museum of Natural History and the National Institute of Aerospace.

"The teachers came as a team from each of the school divisions, and they worked with each other to create the lessons," Dr. Talaiver said. "Those lessons will last forever because they have access to Moodle, a content management system similar to Blackboard but which is open-source, so teachers can have access to it all the time. 

The contributions of two ITTIP instructional technology design specialists, Dr. Linda Townsend and Rebecca Bowen, were crucial to the project's success, Dr. Talaiver added.

The ITTIP, based in South Boston, is an outreach of Longwood that helps teachers integrate technology and disseminates research-based best practices in schools. It serves 35 school divisions in Central and Southside Virginia and works closely with the SVRTC.

Dr. Talaiver is a member of the VAMSC Board. In February 2009 she received the 2009 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Promotion of K-12 Education.