Certainly the highlight of the year for most SITE members is the annual conference held each March. For many of us, it’s a good time to reenergize, to see familiar (and not-so-familiar) colleagues, to share cutting-edge ideas and research with others. It seems that we just finish with one conference and it’s time to plan for and submit presentations to the next (btw, March 2009 is in Charleston, NC, ). As with many professional organizations, it’s understandable that so many focus on the annual conference.
However, that annual SITE conference is only one of many activities and organizations that SITE engages with throughout the year. For example, a recent blog entry by SITE president Gerald Knezek describes his activities at the annual conference of the MOFET Institute in Israel. And one of SITE’s vice presidents is engaged in a number of activities that could provide SITE members with professional opportunities in China (more about these activities in subsequent blog postings).
While SITE has made significant efforts to bolster its stature in the international community (as was evidenced by the global presence at the March 2008 conference), it also remains committed to domestic US activities. Many of these activities include developing partnerships with key organizations such as ISTE, AACTE, NTLC, and various professional teacher education organizations.
By definition SITE is a collaborative association: there are actually two “Ts” in its acronym—”technology” and “teacher” [education]. As stated in its mission, SITE is “an international association of individual teacher educators, and affiliated organizations of teacher educators in all disciplines who are interested in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about the use of information technology.” To develop and maintain those bridges among individual teacher educators and affiliated organization requires a year-round commitment.
The best of these collaborations can yield powerful results. For example, SITE worked with a number of organizations and individuals to add language to the current Higher Educational Reauthorization Act, now referred to as the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008.” Through the combined efforts of ISTE, NTLS, AACTE, among others, SITE assisted in developing an addendum called “Preparing Teacher for Digital Age Learners.” The 2007 NTLS provided an opportunity for ISTE, SITE and AACTE to come together and discuss their perspectives on this potential legislation. (Special thanks go out to Don Knezek and Hilary Goldman of ISTE, along with its SIGTE members for taking the lead in this initiative.)
The “Preparing Teachers for Digital Age Learners” language is designed to replicate the former PT3 program, which benefited so many SITE members. As it now stands, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008 has passed Congress and is now before President Bush for his signature. At the moment, however, it does not appear that Preparing Teachers for Digital Age Learners funding will come close to that of the former PT3 program. Yet, it is a start.
Should this legislation be signed by the President (and funded), it may have a dramatic impact on future SITE conferences. Many can remember the impact that PT3 had. However, the development of this program and the advocacy that surrounded it required a year-and-a-half commitment and the collaboration of key organizations and individuals.
By continuing to follow this blog and the SITE home page, you’ll get a better sense of the year-round commitment that the SITE leadership and its members are making to foster the role of information technology as an educational tool both in the US and across the world.