June 21, 2004

Keeping up with Technology at the ETTC
By DIANE D’AMICO Education Writer, (609) 272-7241

MAYS LANDING - They didn't spend a lot of money on remodeling, but when it comes to having the best technology, the Southern Regional Institute/Educational Technology Training Center is state of the art.

"Our steering committee wanted everything to be functional," SRI chief executive officer Harvey Kesselman said. "But we also have to have the latest equipment the teachers want to learn."

That's no small challenge given the rapid changes and advances in educational technology.

Kesselman moved last month with the Institute from its home at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to a new, larger 6,000-square-foot site on Route 50 in Mays Landing. The site was chosen to give Stockton a presence in the western part of the county as the SRI expands services throughout southern New Jersey.

The Institute spent about $150,000 on the move, most of it on new equipment. They've wasted no time in earning that money back. The schedule of summer courses includes one-day workshops and credit courses that tie into Stockton's master's degree programs in education, and instructional technology.

Almost 200 educators have already signed up.

"The real issue now is not so much how to use the equipment, but how to infuse it into the curriculum," Kesselman said.

The Institute is set up for multiple uses. Tables are on wheels so they can be easily moved to meet workshop needs. Videoconferencing capabilities can connect to off-site locations. The wireless lab has 24 laptops. Both Mac and PC computers are available, as is a Starboard (a high-tech, computerized blackboard) and video-editing software.

"One of the most popular programs this summer is video production in the classroom," ETTC assistant director Dina Abbamondi said.

The center has a lending library of equipment and software that teachers can borrow, including electronic microscopes, digital cameras, laptops and projectors.

Workshops are offered at no cost to teachers in districts that are members of the SRI. Sixty school districts and another dozen private, nonprofit and government agencies are members of the consortium.

"We grew because we met a need to offer professional development," Kesselman said.

More information on courses is available online at: www.ettc.net

To e-mail Diane D'Amico at The Press: DDamico@pressofac.com