Partners Project Named Organization of Excellence

April 17, 1997

WACO, Texas -- The U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) recently awarded its top honor to Baylor University's School of Education, naming Baylor's PARTNERS project as the "Organization of Excellence."

The PARTNERS project, which began in 1995 with a three-year grant from the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education Certification, was recognized by USDLA as a "pioneer in a new model of distance learning" and as a "project that is changing the way teachers are being prepared for certification."

The three-year grant, totaling $1.5 million, established Baylor's School of Education as a Center for Professional Development in Technology (CPDT) and a designated state center for researching new standards for state teacher certification requirements.

The PARTNERS project has enabled Baylor's School of Education to connect with Hillcrest Professional Development School in Waco and Harker Heights Elementary in Killeen through two-way audio visual equipment and the Internet. The three institutions are linked together daily which allows students in Baylor's School of Education to observe elementary school classes in action more frequently, and creates virtual field experiences with direct input and commentary from their professors.

This communication also touches the lives of the teachers and students at the participating elementary schools. For instance, students at Hillcrest and Harker Heights combined forces to provide election night news coverage for both campuses during the 1996 national elections. While Harker Heights students monitored election results on the Internet, Hillcrest students viewed election news on cable television. The students relayed information by e-mail and videoconference. A newsletter compiling the information was distributed on both campuses the next morning.

Chris Jones, coordinator of technology and telecommunications for the PARTNERS project, accepted the award from USDLA on behalf of the PARTNERS project.

"It is encouraging to know that this new model for preparing teachers is viable and exciting to the world," Jones said. "With this model, students can merge theory and reality to find a happy medium ."

For more information, contact Jones or Dr. Betty Conaway, PARTNERS project director, associate professor and chair of curriculum and instruction in Baylor's School of Education, at (817) 755-3594.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?