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Austin presents technology paper at international conference

Dr. Len Austin, assistant professor of education at Black Hills State University, presented a workshop at the 11th International Conference for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE 2000) recently in San Diego, Calif.

The presentation titled "E-mail for Preservice Teachers in the Year 2000" focused on original research conducted by Austin in the area of facilitating out-of-class interactions between students and instructors, and between students themselves.

Austin also discussed his two-year survey of preservice teachers regarding how they think e-mail could be better used in the year 2000. His data revealed that students want quicker access to class information (especially up-to-date information on their grades), notification of cancelled classes, and the ability to get class information if they are absent. Students also said they want to be able to have private conversations with their instructors, and access sample tests.

In addition, Austin discussed the effectiveness of utilizing e-mail to communicate with cooperating teachers (inservice elementary school teachers) in the field who are supervising BHSU student teachers.


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Austin, who teaches educational psychology and child development courses at BHSU, also described his unique use of "e-mail masters" in his college courses; wherein he designates one student to coordinate the flow of information to all students enrolled in that class.

Of the conference Austin said, "With the increased access to e-mail by most college students, college instructors in the next millennium must use this technology to much greater effect than in the past. At this conference instructional technologists and advanced-thinkers in the field of electronic communications shared ideas about e-mail and internet use with college students. The overriding purpose of this international group was to find ways to better prepare future teachers to use technology effectively in their classrooms to improve learning."

Austin pointed out that South Dakota has the highest ratio in the nation of computer to student, with one computer for every four students. "That means our future teachers had better be technology literate upon graduation from BHSU, because their students will be," said Austin.

Austin has a doctorate degree from the University of Wyoming in educational psychology and counseling and was an assistant professor at SDSU before coming to BHSU in 1997. He currently serves on the College of Education's Technology/LOFTI Committee.