NEW YORK—Teachers, professional developers and Bronx residents toured the Regional Educational Technology Center’s (RETC) new off-campus facility on Sept. 30, during an open-house celebration.
The additional site was opened to meet the growing demand from educators whom the RETC trains to use technology that will improve their students’ learning experience, and to house the center’s growing staff—which over the past two years has increased from four to 28.
“The additional RETC site provides training space and administrative offices that are uniquely designed to serve our purposes,” said Kathleen King, Ed.D., director of the RETC and professor of adult education at Fordham University. “Our location on East Fordham Road brings us into the center of the Bronx community that we want to serve through our programs. The additional and adaptable space as well as the location will make our educational programs more available for teachers, parents and other adults.”
“RETC 557,” located at 557 E. Fordham Rd., supplements the RETC’s facilities in the William D. Walsh Family Library on the Rose Hill campus, houses the center’s administrative offices, and provides three floors of office and training space for its professional developers, researchers and technical staff.
At the open house, Mark Gura, professional development specialist for the RETC, demonstrated the center’s use of podcasts, audio broadcasts of discussions, interviews and professional development that are distributed over the Internet. Gura and King co-host a weekly podcast on educational technology, “Techpod, Podcast for Teachers,” which is found on iTunes and other podcast databases at www.podcastforteachers.org.
“Podcasts represent the latest widely adopted development of Internet communication. Just like websites, chatrooms and discussion boards, you can find podcasts now on every topic,” said King. “As I have seen young people grabbing hold of this technology with great excitement and using it to express their ideas and opinions, I saw how we need to help educators become familiar and comfortable with this technology.”
The new site features several learning centers, including the Bronx’s only public computer training and testing center for certification on basic computer programs (such as A+), and an adult learning resource center to train adult educators.
In addition, the site offers more space for “Learning Through Robotics,” one of the RETC’s most popular programs for educational applications for students of all ages. The RETC uses its Lego robotics lab to escalate this dynamic trend by training educators. RETC staff work with K-12 educators, focusing on curriculum for not only traditional students but also GED students. Both students and teachers get energized through these learning experiences, according to King.
By using Legos to build and operate robotic projects, Gura said, students develop skills that will assist them in problem solving, literacy, science and math.
“This has exploded as a popular activity,” said Gura. “Through building these toys, students learn real engineering techniques in a discovery and play context.”
Several dozen Region 2 Bronx schools currently participate in the First Lego League robotics program—in which the RETC has partnered with Region 2. On Dec. 17, the RETC will celebrate its second annual “Bots in the Bronx” robotics festival, when student Lego-Robotics teams from across the Bronx will compete at the McGinley Center on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.
The Regional Educational Technology Center (RETC) is dedicated to serving and researching the professional development needs of educators striving to improve student and teacher performance. The center’s award-winning programs serve educators across grade levels and contexts, providing in-class and distance learning opportunities. These efforts span K-12, adult education and higher education settings. Programs engaging K-12 educators particularly emphasize educational technology. The RETC was established, in part, through a $9 million grant as part of the New York State’s Higher Education Applied Technology Legislation of 1995. For the most current information about Fordham’s RETC events, visit the RETC website, www.retc.fordham.edu, and view the e-newsletter.