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University of South Florida Recognized with 2021 AACTE Technology Award

Children working on a virtual puzzle with teacher

AACTE is pleased to announce the University of South Florida (USF) as the recipient of the 2021 AACTE Best Practice Award for Innovative Use of Technology. Ilene Berson, professor of early childhood at USF, is being presented with the award at today’s virtual AACTE 73rd Annual Meeting Awards Forum.

USF is being recognized for its work in highlighting cybersecurity, an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of using technology. The university has addressed cybersecurity at all levels, from community outreach programs for youth, to an undergraduate course that is a recommended elective for future teachers, to the creation of a three graduate course sequence that results in a cybersecurity certificate. The certificate includes a course dedicated to cybersecurity that explores current issues facing schools in Florida. This unique focus on cybersecurity comes at a time when schools at all levels are currently faced with using new and different technologies to move coursework online, often without much consideration for cybersecurity issues. This focus at USF will provide its future teachers with the knowledge and skills they will need as they move into the new reality of today’s classrooms.

“At a time when the skills and pedagogy of classroom teachers and school administrators are more important than ever, USF’s cybersecurity education initiatives offer innovative preparation of preservice and inservice teachers for roles as leaders and educators throughout PreK-12 schools and higher education,” said Michael J. Berson, PhD, professor and co-chair of the College of Education’s Digital Ecosystem Committee. “These efforts have engaged the community in critical conversations about security issues that affect our educational institutions while exploring solutions that are safe and empower technology use.”

This award is given annually by AACTE to recognize the successful infusion of technology in a school, college, or department of education. Along with a description of their program’s context, objectives and duration, applicants must address the program’s outcomes and sustainability. The AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology reviews these applications and selects the winning entry.

As the leading voice in educator preparation, AACTE represents teacher educators who sustain and advance our profession through innovation, high standards and leadership. “For 25 years, AACTE has honored the exceptional contributions of member institutions and individuals to our field,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “The University of South Florida’s groundbreaking focus on cybersecurity exemplifies excellence in educator preparation innovation, and it is a pleasure to recognize the work of this AACTE member institution at the Awards Forum during our 73rd Annual Meeting.”

AACTE issued a press release today announcing all of its 2021 award winners. For more information on AACTE’s awards program, visit the AACTE website.


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Katrina Norfleet

Content Strategist, AACTE