Robotics Academy at Northeastern State to Win AACTE Technology Award

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On behalf of the AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology, I am delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 AACTE Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology: the College of Education at Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University (NSU), for its Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement (RACE) program. Representatives from NSU will receive the award on Saturday, March 3, during the Closing Keynote at the AACTE Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

This annual award celebrates and recognizes the innovative use of educational technologies in a school, college, or department of education in ways that stretch beyond established practice to enable change in teacher education programs.

The RACE program uses robotics to facilitate critical thinking and problem solving on the part of preservice candidates, in-service professionals, and PK-12 students. It grew out of a partnership between the Cherokee Nation and NSU that began in 2012. It started small, by implementing robotics in just one “Technology in Education” class, then expanded to include a required “Emerging Technologies” course with a service-learning component that enables candidates to design cross-curricular lessons using a variety of robotics technologies. The program also has added robotics summer camps, afterschool programs, and a partnership with the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation that fuels STEM curriculum development and training for practicing teachers as well as preservice candidates.

“The RACE program is an outstanding example of NSU’s overall commitment to an immersive learning approach that allows our graduates to be career ready in a variety of fields,” said Steve Turner, president of Northeastern State University. “We are very proud that, since the program’s inception, over 700 preservice teachers have tutored and/or mentored more than 3,500 students in the United States and internationally.”

Indeed, the program was recognized in part due the significant number and diversity of educators and learners it has reached. As of the time of its entry for this award, the program reported that candidates had tutored 500 PK-12 students in NSU labs, worked in classrooms and afterschool programs with 600 students, and mentored over 2,000 students in robotics competitions and over 1,000 students in robotics summer camps. In addition, the College has hosted the VEXPo Robotics Competition with the Cherokee Nation for the last 3 years, with participation of over 2,000 elementary and secondary students from across the state of Oklahoma; faculty from programs across the campus assist with organizing the event and judging entries. At the annual summer academy hosted by the College, preservice candidates take leadership roles in designing curriculum and teaching.

The AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology commends NSU for its leadership in the preparation of preservice and in-service teachers and PK-12 students to fully utilize and integrate technology to achieve 21st-century learning.

AACTE issued a press release today announcing all of its 2018 award winners. For more information on AACTE’s awards program, visit http://aacte.org/professional-development-and-events/awards. Applications for next year’s awards open in June.

Arlene Borthwick is chair of the AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology.

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Arlene Borthwick

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