Theodore Kopcha, an associate professor in the career and information sciences department of UGA’s College of Education, has dedicated most of his career to finding better ways to integrate technology in K-12 and higher education.
As a Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellow, Kopcha has worked for the past year directly with the Archway Partnership, a public service and outreach unit, on designing and implementing various technology programs for K-12 students throughout Georgia specifically focused on science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
Created by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach in 2011, the fellows program is designed for tenure-track and tenured professors to enhance their academic courses, conduct community-based research and apply their academic expertise to outreach initiatives. The fellow’s home department receives $15,000, which allows the fellow to work collaboratively with public service faculty in a public service and outreach unit during a given semester.
“Through my fellowship, I’ve been able to conduct a large-scale study of the impact of in-classroom professional development on the use of technology integration, which is a major focus of my research,” Kopcha said.
Kopcha initially spent his time in the fellowship traveling to meetings at Archway communities around the state to learn more about each community’s unique needs.
In Hart County, Kopcha provided professional development for teachers interested in using technology to support deeper student thinking. He met with small groups of teachers throughout the semester offering ideas for ways to integrate new technologies into the classroom.
In Candler County, he assisted teachers with planning and implementing place-based STEM projects for middle-school students. Each grade level selected a topic of interest within their community then used math, science and engineering to solve the issue.
“Throughout my fellowship I also wanted to simply grow a stronger relationship with each community,” Kopcha said. “Change in any community takes time-especially changes like the ones I was trying to achieve, which require a persistence when challenges emerge and a shift in the way students interact with teachers and each other.”
As a result of his work, Kopcha has seen great progress throughout the year and hopes to see even more progress in the future.