UWP and Southwestern High School team up on technology project

October 14, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-As computer technology advances and educators strive to provide students with the most up-to-date skills, dwindling resources in the education system can make teaching the necessary computer skills a challenge.

Thanks to a grant from the University of Wisconsin System PK-16 Initiative, a project entitled, "How We Change," has teamed up Donna Perkins, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and Cari Simison, Southwestern High School, to improve student participation and problem solving skills through the use of technology.

Perkins is an assistant professor of business administration. Simison is a learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders teacher. Students from Perkins' class will partner with exceptional education needs (EEN) students from Simison's class, using the Internet and course management software to collaborate on projects.

"Donna Perkins and I are working on a project that introduces the basic social skills needed in adult life and on the job to high school EEN students and college students in an introduction to management course," Simison said. "There will be discussion assignments between the two schools using the Blackboard program available through UWP. Students will also meet in person to discuss their experiences."

Using problem solving techniques discussed in Perkin's introduction to management class, the students will be required to develop ideas resulting in the best solutions or plans to given scenarios.

"In my introduction to management class, students learn the steps necessary to make good decisions or plans," Perkins said. "These basic steps can be applied to most any situation to make a good decision."

While many of Simison's students have used various forms of technology within the classroom, this will be their first experience using Blackboard and the chat discussion group format, Simison said. This exposure to new technology is just one of the many benefits to all the students involved.

"Most of my students do not go on to college and haven't had a lot of experience with college students or the college environment, so they are really looking forward to spending part of a day on campus," Simison said. "Also, my students haven't used an on-line format for any courses, and as this becomes more and more popular, they will probably encounter it some time in their lives."

Perkins said the on-line collaboration will also benefit her students.

"This will really help prepare my students to work with people in companies at different locations, where they are not meeting face-to-face," Perkins said. "It will be good practice for them to become familiar with using technology to communicate at a distance."

Simison said much of the initial planning has been completed and that the students will begin the project in October. In December, Perkins and Simison will do an analysis of the project, followed by revisions and a project presentation in spring 2003.

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