New UTcreate name Reflects Laptop Program's Maturity February 13, 2013

In the years since the Laptop Initiative began, laptops have become an integral part of the College's teacher education programs. As the program's name changes to UTcreate, the use of other devices is being explored.

In 2002, the College of Education began a groundbreaking program to infuse the use of technology into its teacher education courses. The Laptop Initiative for Future Educators (LIFE), in which teacher education students in their professional development sequence (PDS) were required to have a laptop computer, was the first program of its kind in a public university college of education. Through the years, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) has provided critical planning and technical support for LIFE, as the program successfully developed teachers who could easily and effectively use technology to improve the learning of their students.

LIFE has continued to evolve, expand, and respond to changes in technology. And now, to reflect that growth, Chad Fulton, the LTC’s LIFE Coordinator, and the LIFE Steering Committee are pleased to announce that the name of the program has been changed to UTcreate: Using Technology and Collaborative Resources to Amplify Teacher Education.

Preservice teachers learn how to use an Android tablet with N-trig stylus.

The name change reflects the maturity of the program as well as the many changes in learning technologies in the last few years. Says Chad, “The program is a well established and critical part of the teacher education programs in the College, so we no longer wanted to call it an initiative. And as other mobile computing devices such as tablets and smartphones have become more powerful and flexible, having “laptop” in the name seemed too limited.”

Indeed, over the past year a group of faculty has studied how other types of devices could be integrated into the program. This group, along with the steering committee, is carefully considering many factors related to potential changes to the program’s device requirement. It is possible that the laptop only requirement may soon give way to a functional requirement, such that any device that can perform a set of prescribed functions will fulfill the requirement. This approach will be tested by the students starting the PDS in the 2013 summer semester.

The new acronym also highlights how the use of collaborative activities, often facilitated by online resources, has grown in the last few years. “Students are using online services like Canvas and Google Apps for Education to work together in increasingly sophisticated and powerful ways,” says Chad. “Collaboration will continue to grow in importance in the coming years.”

The new UTcreate name will refer to the four critical elements of the program: 1) activities that support technology integration and the faculty’s use of technology in their courses; 2) a requirement for students to own and use a device in their coursework; 3) an array of support services, most notably the Help Desk in the LTC, for students using the required devices in their courses; and 4) support for students as they use technology in their field experiences and student teaching.

The new name will better represent a program that has always been on the leading edge of technology use in teacher education. Says Chad, “It matters less now what devices you have. What matters is what you can do with your devices. Teaching is a creative art, and effectively using modern digital technologies is a critical part of providing new educational possibilities for 21st century students. UTcreate helps the College prepare teachers who are ready to teach, influence, and inspire the youth of today.”

Last updated on May 9, 2013