Faculty Spotlight: Paula Lombardi, M.Ed.

my picPaula Lombardi has been teaching in the classroom for thirty two years and teaching online for Granite State College for two and a half years. She remarks, “I have been teaching online and developing Moodle courses for the School of Education (SOE) and we have grown at an amazing rate. The first year focus was on getting courses online and doing some initial revisions to the field-based courses. Currently we are integrating technology teacher standards and artifacts throughout the program, moving towards text (fee) free courses and redesigning courses with additional focus on developing ‘Habits of the Mind’ (HOM). The HOM focus is on modeling and training teachers to use research-based resources to make decisions about best practices in instruction.”

Teaching Online

Paula had wanted to teach online since she first discovered it was a possibility. Since the late 90’s, she has participated in internet discussion groups sharing resources and reflecting on teaching with other special educators. Prior to teaching online she developed computer learning activities for students with significant learning difficulties due to accessibility and literacy issues using the Intellitools Suite programming tools. She developed her own special education website and several other websites for non-profits and businesses.  Paula had long term volunteer relationship with New England Handicapped Sports Association-NEHSA out of Mt. Sunapee in which she created, developed and managed their website. Transitioning to online teaching has been a natural progression for her to a more interactive online learning environment.

Advancement in Learning Outcomes

The SOE has adopted the International Society of Technology Education (ITSE) teacher standards as a model for integrating technology standards into the curriculum. GSC students evaluate and update their technology skills in their beginning, intermediate and advanced level courses. Each course has technology key artifacts designed to support the course competencies and develop competency using technologies that are or could be used in K-12 education. She remarks, “In the methods courses we are studying the Technology-Pedagogy-Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework to better understand the process of developing learning activities that combine these three core components of teacher knowledge and practice.”

“Assessment of technology integration is part of the lesson planning and lesson evaluation process. The goal is to identify technologies that will improve student learning outcomes and embed them in the learning activities. In the Elementary and General Special Education (ELE/GSE) courses GSC students are developing interactive online units of instruction using Google Sites to teach math and literacy. In science and social studies they are developing WebQuests to teach inquiry learning activities as part of their units of instruction. In these and other courses GSC students are using Wikis and Google apps to work collaboratively. These are a few of the education based technology skills being addressed in the courses to support the skills our teacher candidates will need in today’s ever changing school environment.”

Going Textbookless

The next big thing is moving towards text free courses by using free available resources. As one of the lead faculty for the SOE, Paula states she has been looking outside the text book box.

Paula is exploring the free resources that our GSC Discovery Service provides and to other Open Education Resources (OERs).

“With information so readily available online, there is no reason to restrict ourselves to one or two expensive text books per course. There are 145,000 free e-books available through the Discovery Service. We can research and choose high quality and current resources for developing courses that target the learning objectives of the course.” 

She remarks, “In addition to saving money and using carefully selected resources, we are modeling for our students how to use these library and OER resources. This process of accessing, analyzing and utilizing research is needed to empower teachers with strategies to inform their teaching practice with the ultimate goal of improving student outcomes.”

New Innovations

The School of Education is now a “Google School” which allows instructors and students to use Google apps to collaborate. The SOE has moved its Teacher Resource Page to a Google site at: https://sites.google.com/a/gscsoe.org/web/ that is managed by Nick Marks. Programs like Google Sites and Wikis allow everyone the opportunity to develop content and have an online presence for free. Paula stated that Google Sites has been a wonderful asset to her teaching for two reasons. She stated it gives her a place to develop content outside of Moodle, which is accessible to students when they are in the course and for future reference. Second, she stated it models how to use Google Sites. “It’s a handy place to put supplementary course related material. I have used my Google Sites and Blogger to post students work such as discussion forum topic summaries. I am now able to capture the dynamic content that happens in the course discussion forums and during the course in general, blog it, and refer to it in future classes or just have it available as supplementary reading.” She stated that she has used Wikis to get students researching and collaborating on web-based and iPad apps for different purposes including, content area teaching, behavior management, and data collection. She believes it’s important to get students learning and collaborating outside of Moodle, in the open internet.

Paula reminds her students that they will likely be teaching online to some extent in their future teaching careers. She remarks, “The interactive Google Site unit is an assignment that demonstrates the possibilities of teacher designed, individualized online instruction. One student in EDU 710 developed an online unit for first grade phonics instruction and practice. Her cooperating teacher loved it and they are using it with their students as a ‘learning center’.”
She said the students were highly motivated to use the site and were able to work on the lessons independently.

She stated she has been very impressed with the work our SOE students have been doing in the area of using technology to develop instructional activities. Paula is an innovative and inspirational instructor, she understands the challenges and enjoys supporting our students in their professional development.

To contact Paula, you may send an email to: pblombardi@go.granite.edu.