The eMINTS National Center, here on the University of Missouri campus, connects research-based teaching practices with the best use of technology. The Center, which was established in 1999 through a partnership between the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Department of Higher Education, and the University of Missouri, helps schools and teachers meet the demands of Digital Age teaching and learning.
Developed from research conducted at the University of Missouri, the Center is truly a Mizzou Made program. The Center utilizes both a professional development program and a “train the trainer” method to bring their effective methods to teachers all over the state of Missouri and beyond. The eMINTS method is currently used in school districts in ten states.
The eMINTS method is focused on a four-part instructional model that focuses on classroom community, high-quality lesson design, authentic learning, and technology. Thus, it centers on ways to build communities where students feel safe to take risks in a pro-social environment. The model helps teachers think about lesson designing by thinking about what the students are to achieve and the pathways to make that happen. To do this, the model mirrors the same problem solving needs that students will encounter on their own in their careers after school. And finally, technology helps power the method by connecting people using data and “real-world” examples to facilitate the goals of the method. Its goal is to improve the ways technology is used in schools, not just to improve student access to it.
When the eMINTS National Center works with school districts and teacher, they take an individualized approach to build partnerships with the schools and teachers with which they work. The mission is to work together to figure out how to implement the eMINTS approach in the context of their school districts, with the goal to build reciprocal partnerships with teachers and schools.
eMINTS works in both rural and urban communities where many students lack regular access to technologies. In reaching these communities, eMINTS also hopes to reach students who are normally left out of STEM fields by providing them with technology resources and technology-based instruction. Recently, eMINTS completed an NSF-funded project where they worked with teachers who then used the “train the trainer” model to teacher other educators how to help students learn computational thinking as they coded, designed, and debugged video games in southern Missouri.
Currently, eMINTS is working on a two-year program, funded by the US Department of Education, along with private partners, to work with 60 high poverty, rural school districts across Alabama, Arkansas, Utah, and Missouri. This project also uses the “train the trainer” model to introduce whole school district to the eMINTS instructional model.
Over the years, the Center has taken part in several external evaluations to determine the effects of the eMINTS professional development on teacher and student outcomes and to improve program implementation. As a result, the Center’s flagship program, eMINTS Comprehensive PD Program, is one of the few programs with data to support the chain of evidence from delivery of a specific technology PD program to changing teacher practice and to positive impacts on student achievement. Their most recent study is still on going, but the preliminary results look promising.
For more details on the eMINTS National Center and their approach, visit their website: http://emints.org/.