Teaching Technology

Penn State College of Education students use virtual tutoring sessions to help English language learners develop their language, literacy, and math skills as part of a partnership with the Hazleton Integration Project in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

Elementary and middle school English language learners from Hazleton connect with Penn State College of Education students through online video chat technology. The virtual tutoring sessions, part of a course on teaching English language learners, focus on helping the Hazleton students develop their language, literacy, and math skills. 

Instructor May Lee passes out papers to a group of students

Instructor May Lee prepares students for class

May Lee (standing), instructor of education and curriculum and instruction field experiences, speaks to her students in her class, preparing them for their tutoring sessions. Students work in pairs with English language learners from Hazleton, which has the fastest growing Latino population in the state, according to Megan Hopkins, professor in charge. 

Image: Kevin Sliman

According to Megan Hopkins, assistant professor of education, a state mandate requires Education majors to learn how to work with English language learners (ELL). Faculty at Penn State are taking one step further by providing students with hands-on experience working with these kinds of students.

"The field experience makes a difference for teacher candidates because it provides them an opportunity to mentor and develop relationships with emergent bilinguals they would otherwise not have."—May Lee, Instructor in Education

Hopkins says that this virtual tutoring serves multiple purposes. Tutors are able to develop relationships with students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, learning about how to tailor lessons to their individual needs.

The virtual tutoring sessions take place in the Learn Lab—part of the College of Education's Krause Innovation Studio.

"The Learn Lab provides a space that facilitates the use of technology, which is a core part of the program," says Hopkins.

"The tutors develop a relationship with someone who likely comes from a different cultural and linguistic background than their own."—Megan Hopkins, Assistant Professor of Education

The virtual tutoring initiative comes as part of a partnership between the College of Education and the Hazleton Integration Project, a community-based effort that seeks to unite the people of many different cultures in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. The partnership is helping to better prepare future teachers as well as support K-12 students who are struggling academically. 


About the Krause Innovation Studio

The Krause Innovation Studio, located in the Chambers Building on Penn State's University Park campus, is a state of the art learning space and research facility in the College of Education. Its focus is on developing educational leaders who engage in innovation and research with emerging technological tools. The Studio provides classroom and lab space as well as collaboration areas for students, faculty, and staff. 

The Krause Innovation Studio was made possible by a $6.5 million gift from Gay and Bill Krause and officially opened in spring 2012.