Posted by: COE Advising | September 28, 2011

Endorsement of Teaching Certificates

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about the basics of educator certification in Illinois. One of the more confusing topics related to certification is that of endorsements.

So what is an endorsement?  Basically, an endorsement is a statement appearing on a certificate that identifies the specific subjects that a teacher is eligible to teach. Endorsements and certificates go hand and hand – one cannot exist without the other. Think of it this way – the certificate tells your employer the type of school where you can teach (pre-school, elementary, high school, etc.) and the endorsement tells your employer what subject you are able to teach in that school (self-contained general education, language arts, math, biology, etc.).

Another thing to note is that endorsements may be issued at various grade levels on a certificate. This is due to the middle grades. When we reviewed the different types of certificates issued by the State of Illinois, you may have noticed that Illinois does not have a Middle School teaching certificate. Instead, the middle level grades are embedded within each of the existing teaching certificates. The middle grade level on a Type 03 certificate is grades 5-8 on a Type 03; on a Type 09 it is grades 6-8; and on a Type 10 it is grades 5-8. (*The middle grades do not exist on the Type 04 Early Childhood certificate. Remember – the grade range for this certificate is Birth to Grade 3.)

To be eligible to teach at the middle grade level on your teaching certificate, you must complete specific coursework requirements. Most middle school endorsements require 18 semester hours (27 quarter hours) of content-area coursework and 6 semester hours of middle school coursework. Also, there are no generic middle school endorsements. All middle school endorsements are tied to a specific subject area. (Example: middle school language arts)

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure this out on your own because your academic advisor can help you determine what you need to do to receive endorsements on your certificate. Most of the time, the endorsement is tied to your specific program, however, additional coursework may be required for additional endorsements.

It’s important you know what endorsements are and how to get the ones of interest to you. Some endorsements are relatively straight forward to acquire, other endorsements have specific requirements. It all depends on the endorsement, the grade level of the endorsement, and the type of certificate you want the endorsement assigned. Tell your advisor what your goals are. Conversations with your academic and faculty advisors can help you identify the types of endorsements available to you now, as well as in the future.

Next week we’ll talk about endorsements specific to certain certificates and how that works.

Posted by: COE Advising | September 21, 2011

Know Your Certification Tests!

Last week, we identified the different types of certificates available through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the different programs at the College of Education (COE) that make students eligible for those certificates. BUT – completing a program is just ONE of the requirements for an ISBE certificate.

In addition to completing an ISBE-approved program, students who want an Illinois certificate must also successfully complete State certification tests. These State certification tests are administered by the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS). These tests are both computer-based and paper-based and are offered once a month throughout the academic year. Each certificate has different test requirements, so check with your academic advisor to determine which tests you need to take. Visit the ICTS website to view the test schedule for this year and to register for your required tests.

Also, it should be noted that ISBE implemented the following testing policy in 2010 : “No individual may attempt to pass the same test more than five times.” Students or registrants who attempt the same test five times and don’t pass will not be allowed to register for that same test. To avoid this from happening to you, you’ll want to invest time in preparing for your tests. The COE offers test-prep assistance through the Academic Success Center (ASC) from tutoring to workshops to study guides.Last academic year, we discussed the office in great detail, so browse through our blog to refresh your memory. But more importantly, remember to stay in close contact with your academic advisor, who will explain your certification requirements to you, including which tests you are required to take. With careful planning and preparation, you can accomplish your goals!

Posted by: COE Advising | September 14, 2011

So, Certification?

Many of the programs at DePaul University’s College of Education are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), so that means if you are in one of these programs, you will be eligible to apply for an Illinois educator’s certificate once you complete all of the certificate’s requirements. Here is a quick overview of the following certificate types, based on the approved programs available here at the COE:

Types of Certificates:

Professional Teaching Certificates:

  • Type 03 – Elementary Education (Kindergarten through Grade 9) ~ Elementary Education program
  • Type 04 – Early Childhood Education (Birth through Grade 3) ~ Early Childhood Education program
  • Type 09 – Secondary Education (Grade 6 through Grade 12) ~ Secondary Education program – i.e. Art, English, Math, Social Science,  History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics
  • Type 10 – Special Education (Kindergarten through Grade 12) ~ Physical Education, Music, World Languages, Reading Specialist programs
  • Type 10 – Special Special Education (Pre-Kindergarten through 21) ~Special Education/LBS1 program

School Service Personnel Certificates:

  • Type 73 – School Counseling (Kindergarten through Grade 12) ~ School Counseling program

Administrative Certificates:

  • Type 75 – General Administrative (Kindergarten through Grade 12) ~ Master’s level Educational Leadership program
  • Type 75 – Superintendent (Kindergarten through Grade 12) ~ Doctoral level Educational Leadership program

Granted, this only scrapes the surface of certification, but it’s certainly a start. For more information about the type of certificate aligned with your program, feel free to consult our Certification page, or speak with your academic advisor.

Posted by: COE Advising | September 7, 2011

Welcome back! Are you ready for 2011-2012?

We hope you’ve had a great summer. It was a long and hot one. Now, if you couldn’t tell from the sweater weather outside, we’re driving straight ahead into Fall. If you’re new here to DePaul University – and especially Chicago – be sure to carry a camera around with you: The leaves change, the air gets crisp, and there’s this particular “autumn hue” that begs for a snapshot. It’s a very exciting time.

But, it’s also a busy one. Classes start fast, assignments roll out, and deadlines approach left and right. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In addition to your trusty advisors, you have plenty of resources to take advantage of, including some that are brand new. If you’re reading this, then you’ve already stumbled upon one such resource, the COE Advising Blog (formerly Advisors, Inc.). Much like last year, we’ll discuss important topics such as certification, endorsements, graduation, etc. However, this year we’ll be more concise and focused on the details you need to know.

Another great resource we’ve put together for 2011-2012 is our Frequently Asked Questions page. We collated all of the questions we’ve received over the last year, and answered them in an orderly fashion. So be sure to bookmark that page, as we’ll continue to update it.

Lastly, if you’re a returning student, you’ve no doubt noticed that we’re no longer called the School of Education (SOE). Earlier this summer, we changed over to the College of Education (COE); as a result, everything has been switched from SOE to COE. Because of this, we’ve changed our email (coeadvising@depaul.edu), and even our networks, so please bookmark and/or join us on Facebook and Twitter. That is, if you want to receive up-to-date news and reminders.

Thanks and stay tuned!

Posted by: COE Advising | June 8, 2011

A fond farewell…until next fall!

If you couldn’t tell from the scathing heat outside – yeah, really, right? – it’s summer. If you’ve experienced a Chicago summer before, then you know it’s one of the most manic weather patterns across the nation. Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold, and, more often than not, it’s a little of this and that. Whatever the case, there’s little room to complain. You’re out in it and ready to have fun.

Speaking of fun, we hope this last year has been enjoyable for you. We know we’ve had what some people refer to as “a ball.” No, really. It’s been an enviable task in taking education-related foundations and policies and turning them into breezy discussions and digressions online. Not to mention, it’s been highly rewarding having the chance to sit down with your spectacular administrators, faculty, and staff. We learned countless things ourselves, and judging from the responses over the last three quarters, we know you have, too.

That’s going to continue next year. What we started in 2010-2011 will carry over into 2011-2012. Right now it’s a little too early to digress on what exactly you might expect, but rest assured, it’ll be worthwhile content that will assist you on your engaging and exciting academic road.

Still, there’s plenty of stuff to absorb right now. So, if you’re taking a break from the outdoors over the next few months, and looking for a good (and quick) read, feel free to visit here. Over the past year, we’ve had the unique opportunity to publish some great conversations, packaged with some supreme information. Just recently, we chatted with Dean Paul Zionts; earlier, we discussed each program with the department chairs. Outside of that, we’ve touched upon scholarships, career opportunities, campus technology, and plenty more. We’ve introduced you to your advisors, we’ve opened your eyes to facilities within the College of Education. Somewhere in there we managed to squeeze in hot topics like graduation, certification (even for advanced programs), or endorsements (twice, actually!). Pretty wild, huh?

The best part? It’s all there for your reading pleasure. It’s not going anywhere. Three words: Use it wisely.

Anyways, have a great summer and see you in September!

Posted by: COE Advising | May 23, 2011

Meet Dean Paul Zionts

For a bright and sunny Thursday afternoon in April, there’s little sunlight pouring into Room 467H. But that’s okay. In the corner, a trusty lamp ignites the copious suite with just enough reach, bringing particular facets of the room to view. In the corner, above a filing cabinet, there’s a framed black and white photo of St. Michaels Y.M.C. in Oldtown, and just to its right, there’s a black and white snapshot of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams. The focus, however, isn’t on these artifacts, but rather an engulfing (again) black and white portrait of Art Kane’s highly celebrated photograph, “A Great Day in Harlem”. It’s a bold image that’s intensely alluring. Maybe it’s the eyes – especially Hank Jones’ or Thelonius Monk’s – or maybe it’s also just unexpected. Who would have thought the Dean of DePaul University’s College of Education would be an avid jazz fan? Then again, there’s a lot about Dean Paul Zionts that goes left unsaid.

Originally from Hartford, Connecticut, Zionts carries an impressive resume, and an equally inspiring journey behind him. After working at a reform school and an inner-city high school in Connecticut for seven-and-a-half years, he was recruited into University of Connecticut’s doctoral program, where he earned his degree in educational psychology and special education in 1979. This opened doors to wider landscapes; more specifically, Central Michigan University. Following 21 years of work in Mount Pleasant, MI – including the publication of four books – Zionts shifted gears and became a professor of special education and Chairperson of the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Services at Kent State University, where he published his fifth book, 2002’s Emotional and Behavioral Problems : A Handbook for Understanding and Handling Students. In 2005, Zionts became dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where he remained for four years. By summer of 2009, Zionts had arrived in Chicago, IL to become the new dean for DePaul University’s College of Education.

“I don’t think I knew what my Dean did even through doctoral work,” Zionts admits. His sharp silver hair is unmistakable, even in the comfortably lit room. He smiles and adds, “Faculty and staff don’t really know all the things you do as a dean.”

It’s true. Everyone in the College of Education knows Zionts, but they don’t really know precisely what he does. Why should they? As long as things are working according to plan. Zionts emphasizes, however, that his first line of duty is supporting the faculty, an established body of professionals that produces “fabulous work.” He’s not alone in this feeling. “Ask alumni,” he says. “Time and time again, they’ll tell you about the strength of the faculty.”

Since arriving, each day, Zionts works with a revolving list of faculty members, ensuring that each person receives equal due. “The question that I have to ask faculty if they want support is, “How is this going to affect students,” Zionts pauses for a moment, and adds, “I don’t think I’ve said no to anybody here.”

This optimism carries over into his other tasks. As Dean, he represents the College of Education not only at an administrative level, but in the Chicagoland area, as well. In fact, each month, he meets and networks with 24 other deans from the Chicago metropolitan area, championing the DePaul brand. That’s not the only traveling he does, either. Zionts also connects with alumni and potential donors to discuss the accomplishments of both his faculty and students. He calls it the “easiest part” of his job.

That explains why he’s doing an incredible job campaigning. Already, Zionts has amassed enough funding to start a student teaching scholarship, which should receive a collective sigh of relief from the student population. “Fifty percent of our students work full-time,” Zionts remarks. “So what are they going to do during student teaching?” It’s a common fear amongst those entering the 10-12-16 week assignment, depending on what program they’re in, and for those who depend on their day jobs to survive, the experience becomes not only challenging but frightening. They’re not alone in these feelings.

“Student teaching is more than working full time,” Zionts contends. He rubs his chin, deep in thought. “You know, seven in the morning, probably earlier, to eight or nine o clock at night. How are you going to work?” His solution has been creating stipends for student teachers; in other words, money so that they can support themselves and live. Zionts insists this has sparked interest with not only the campus community, but donors, as well. “We’re getting a lot of folks who are donating to that. That’s been very helpful.”

Touching upon financial support, the conversation shifts to the current economy – specifically for teachers. Currently, it’s a rough outlook: from the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman, to the State of Wisconsin and its contentious battle with its Teachers Union, to the mismanagement of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The headlines don’t necessarily make for a great classifieds ad. The problem isn’t just within education, though.

“There’s no voice,” Zionts starts. “No one wants to hear positive things.” Zionts responds to Waiting for Superman, a 2010 documentary that focuses on the failures of the American public school system and follows a select group of students who enter alternative charter schools. He points to this sort of media as a problem – especially the style of reporting. “You see a number of articles about charter schools, but you never see articles about successful public schools,” he continues, “But what’s really intriguing is that if you ask parents whose kids are going to public school, ‘Do you like your kid’s teachers,’ they’ll say yes. The vast majority. Do you like your schools? They’ll say yes. Vast majorities. What do you think about public education? ‘It’s failing.’ Because that’s what the narrative is, it’s failing. They’ll say, ‘Oh, well, not for me.’ Well, there are a lot of ‘not for me’s’.”

That’s not to say the public school systems are without its share of faults. Not at all. Zionts acknowledges there are improvements to be made, pointing to the state’s focus on testing as a major concern. He references the president and chief executive officer for The Chicago Community Trust, Terry Mazany, who served as Interim CEO for the Chicago Public Schools (and the COE’s 2011 commencement speaker) and recently remarked on testing, saying, “One thing I know, you don’t fatten a chicken up by putting it on the scale each day.” Zionts agrees and adds, “You don’t get smarter by testing.”


Despite the faults in the education system, Zionts feels that public educators are being vilified. Too many are being criticized for areas that aren’t necessarily in their hands. “Poverty is not something that teachers have the resources or the authority to change,” he stresses. “Preparing children who are externally poor and are ill-prepared to come to school is a community’s responsibility, not only that of teacher’s, who see their students from nine to three.” He straightens himself up and quickly adds, “The fact of it is, our teachers are doing better than they’ve ever done and the students that they teach are doing better than they’ve ever done – when you compare apples to apples.”

So it’s a great uphill battle for Zionts, but one he remains quite optimistic towards. He thinks students should “keep their heads up” and contends there have been some “bright spots” to note. One particular facet he’s adamant about is the field’s use of “cutting edge” technology. “I think that people are looking at learning in a different way,” he explains, “and we have folks here who are moving that conversation forward.”

Even 45 minutes into the discussion, Zionts continues to promote his faculty. Why shouldn’t he? Not only is he incredibly proud of his surrounding team, but he feels comfortable. It’s been a long journey for Zionts, who is thrilled to be in Chicago. An avid runner, he enjoys having Lake Michigan nearby. And although he’s a die-hard Yankee’s fan (he’ll even prove it), he says he enjoys watching both the Cubs and the White Sox – though, he prefers the latter. However, he feels the Windy City’s real gem is its intense music scene; specifically, its jazz culture, which he calls “an embarrassment of riches.” He adds with finality, “DePaul has a strong sense of purpose and, coupled with being in such a wonderful city, I couldn’t have picked a better place to work and live!”

By the end of our conversation, everything in the office looks a whole lot brighter.

Posted by: COE Advising | April 27, 2011

Illinois State Board of Education, aka ISBE

Quick! Catch! Two words that you’ve probably heard ad nauseum if you’re one for contact sports. However, if you’re in the field of education, it’s almost customary to your life. Week after week, you’re constantly bombarded with shifting policies, requirement checks, and yards and yards of red tape. It’s madness, but it’s life. That’s why it’s key to stay on top of your game…and know your resources.

By attending DePaul University’s School of Education (SOE), you’ve been instructed to stay alert and keep your eyes open. More importantly, you’ve been conditioned to utilize your resources. (We hope so!) You know about our up-to-date SOE website, you’ve printed off the Get the Facts! sheets, and you’re a constant subscriber to our weekly updates. (We hope so!) But what about outside DePaul? Where do you go from there?

Hello, ISBE!

“Uh, not so fast, pal! What’s ISBE?” To answer your question, ISBE is the acronym for the Illinois State Board of Education. Bottom line: You’re going to want to know this one. We’re not saying you need to etch it into your notebooks or run and get a tattoo of the four letters on your arm, but if someone says it, your bell should ring. And loud.

On the topic of resources, ISBE is your overflowing oasis in a desert of confusion – that is, if you plan on being an educator in the state of Illinois. Their website is comprehensive and should be your bookmark; as in, you-need-to-put-this-on-your-internet-browser-tool-bar-sort of bookmark. It contains all the necessary information surrounding certification; as a current student, this is incredibly valuable as it’s where you can download application forms to receive your certificate. That’s a big deal, right?

Because it’s so comprehensive, there’s a lot available. We’re not kidding when we say it’s overflowing. There’s much to discover and much to use. Fortunately, the site’s provided an easy-to-use A-Z certification index, where you can readily navigate the areas you’re looking for in alphabetical order. Looking for information on types of certificates? Go to C and you’ll find “Certificate Types”. How about some literature on the process of Renewing an Administrative Certificate? Scroll down (or click “R”) and you’ll find it under…okay, you got the point. Want all the requirements to certification all tied up with a bow? How about a .pdf, instead? You can sigh in relief now.

Before you do, though, there’s more. You can also consult the Educator’s Certification System (ECS). This is an online database that allows both educators and district administrators to access certification data from ISBE’s Teacher Certification Information System (TCIS). This comes in handy if you’re applying for your certificate, recording your Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDU), or if you want to see if your own test results (including whether or not you passed) are appended to your own profile.

Speaking of which, you’ll want to create an account. In fact, all future educators are strongly encouraged to use ECS. The good news is that registration is simple. You just need to be able to find it. At the homepage for ISBE, you’ll see ECS in the top toolbar, just underneath the header, which you’ll want to click. From there, you can click on “Click here to access your private certification account.” After this, you’ll be taken to a new screen. If you scroll down, you’ll see a button that reads: “Create New Account”. Click that and you’ll be taken through a 14 step process. Once you’ve created the account, you’ll be able to use the ECS. If you need help, ISBE has provided several documents that will help you; from creating an account to the many uses of the ECS. Those are available here.

More than anything, you should really just take a look around. Outside of DePaul, this is going to be your ultimate resource – again, if you plan on teaching within Illinois – so you should ideally be familiar with the site. There’s a lot there and you’ll want to be a pro with the website come game time. What are you waiting for? Go. Play ball!

Links to Bookmark:

Posted by: COE Advising | April 21, 2011

Daily Thought: Personal Statements

Don’t you hate writing about yourself? There’s something so self aggrandizing about personal statements. They horrifically chew at your modest bones bit by bit. But, if you’re working on applications – specifically, scholarship applications (let’s keep with the theme for this week, right?) – then you’re going to have to start coughing up the details, the facts, the goods. Still, it’s no jog through bummerville. It’s a long stroll; one that involves long stops and sensitive visits.

That’s a lot of pressure. For some, it’s too much. The idea that you need to paint a portrait of yourself to a reader you have never met – yeah, it’s pretty tough. What’s worse, typically most applications require you to meet a word count, which adds a whole new element of anxiety. What if you can’t find enough to talk about? What if there’s too much? Do you prioritize your life’s events? Okay, let’s calm down for just a second.

It’s not that bad.

It’s not.

Think of it this way: The ball’s in your court. How you show up to the table is all up to you. To be frank, though, who doesn’t like chatting about themselves? Okay, so it’s not in the nature of most Midwesterners, who are far too modest to hype themselves up, but deep down inside, it’s oddly liberating. It puts your life in perspective and allows for that wonderful thing called “insight” to surface. So, when you think of it in this light, putting together a personal statement takes on a whole new meaning. You’re essentially writing a quick, concise autobiography…for three to four readers.

Okay, so when you’re applying for scholarships, and they ask for a personal statement, what do you write about? We could chat about this for hours. Instead of taking up all your time, we consulted Dr. Roxanne Owens, Department Chair for Teacher Education, who had some great pointers. Right off the bat, she paraphrases President John F. Kennedy, stating, “Ask not what the scholarship can do for you, ask what you can do for the scholarship opportunity.” In other words, don’t digress on how it’ll help you financially, or how it’ll alleviate all those extra hours you’d have to work at your job. That’s not what the committee wants to hear. They want to hear specifically about you.

“What do you bring to this scholarship, not what will you get from the scholarship,” Owens insists. “What do you bring to the table that will make us glad you received the scholarship?”

Simple enough. As Molly Fannin told us this week, “People committed to education is our number one priority.” So cater to that point. What do you – not only as a student, but as a prospective member of the field of education – carry with you? What separates you from the rest? This is where you need to start digging up those personal attributes, and especially that invaluable insight. Everyone has a special characteristic to highlight about themselves, you just need to take some time out with yourself and find it. Then, put it on paper.

“Secondly—be honest,” Owens adds. “Do not exaggerate your hardships, don’t stretch the truth about your situation.”

If you can do that, and find a temporary joy in writing about yourself, then you should be well on your way to great opportunities. Also, something to remember, once you start discovering inherent truths about yourself, you can start shaping up your future; whether it be choosing new paths or correcting current trends you’re in.

What are you waiting for? Go grab that mirror – and some pen and paper, too.

Posted by: COE Advising | April 19, 2011

Scholarships? Just ask Molly Fannin!

In 1984, San Diego heavy metal glam rockers Ratt hit the charts with its most popular single, “Round and Round”. With the exception of the song’s now trademark dual guitar lines, courtesy of guitarists Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini, the song’s only real hallmark is frontman Stephen Pearcy’s ultimately catchy melody, specifically his equivocally directed lyric, “Round and round/What comes around goes around/I’ll tell you why…”. For some reason, this stuffy and dusty relic of a melody comes to mind when Molly Fannin explains how the scholarship system works within the School of Education (SOE) Office of Development.

It’s easy to see why. As Assistant to the SOE Director of Development, Fannin collaborates with a number of organizations, especially alumni, in ensuring there are budgets for scholarships and/or stipends within the SOE community. In other words, she enlists the help of alumni to give back to the school, helping current students in need of financial aid. Suddenly Pearcy’s angry scowl is ringing back. What goes around, comes around, indeed. However, Fallin, and more specifically the SOE Office of Development, make sure that’s a positive thing.

Molly Fannin

“There’s definitely a need for scholarships all the time,” Fannin says. She explains that scholarships were typically only offered once a year, but now, thanks to Dean Zionts, they’ve incorporated student teaching scholarships, which happen each quarter. She adds, “It’s definitely grown.”

As an SOE student, the SOE Office of Development may be your saving grace. Together, this team works with alumni and professional partners to not only strengthen the mission of the School of Education, but to increase its resources for students, alumni, faculty and staff.

“Right now, we’re in a major push for scholarship money and appealing to donors and businesses and alums to help us reach our goal,” Fannin explains. That goal, though, pertains to SOE’s five-year campaign in raising six million dollars, which will be distributed evenly over three separate areas: Preparing Urban Educators of the Future, Outreach to Public and Private Schools, and Scholarships and Fellowships. The campaign started last year and runs until 2014. Fannin adds: “It’s about getting more support for students, and in endowment capacities, so the money’s there forever. We’re looking to grow the money.” So far they’ve raised 78% of their goal.

Where do these generous donations come from?

“Donors can come from anywhere in the community,” Fannin says. “I think everyone has an interest in education.” She stresses that alumni add a lot to this pool, too. However, she admits, “We’re not like other schools where we can ask folks for large amounts from our alumni. They typically don’t make the salaries that others do.”

They help out in other areas, though.

Another day, another call.

“A lot of our alumni are out there teaching and counseling the community, ” Fannin says, “so they’re a great resource to learn what’s going on in CPS, what’s going on in the suburbs, what’s going on in Catholic schools. So, it’s very cyclical. It’s really helpful.”

For those students who benefit from scholarships within the School of Education, it’s rather enlightening to know their academic track has been made possible by those who walked before them. This attribute, however, is why the SOE-related scholarships are only rewarded to those within the program, i.e. those in their second year or beyond. Fannin goes on to explain the application and awarding process.

“People committed to education is our number one priority,” Fannin insists. “Let’s say you’re a freshman and you just got to the SOE. You can’t get any money for the first year that you’re here, but when you do start that first quarter in the fall, you will apply for scholarships for the following academic year.

So, when you’re going into your sophomore year, you’ll start dabbling in your education courses, you’ll have already applied for scholarships during your freshman year that would apply to your sophomore year. So that’s what you want to do.”

The application window runs from mid-October to the end of December, which actually benefits the student, simply because if you didn’t have a chance to apply during the fall quarter, you have a month to get the materials together following Thanksgiving. Throughout the winter and spring quarter, the applications are sorted and reviewed by a faculty-run counsel, and then decisions are made. But, why so long?

Paperwork, anyone?

“We work very closely with financial aid to learn what each student’s profile looks like,” Fannin says. “We want to be sure we’re giving smart money away. That we’re giving it to the right place and to the people that need it and for the right purposes.”

College students have a lot to process; atop most priorities is financial aid. Fannin knows this, and she admits the office continuously searches for more ways to assist students, stating, “We’re always trying to get the word out there on scholarships so everyone has an opportunity to apply.”

A former student of DePaul University – she studied International Affairs and is currently working on her Master’s in Non-Profit Management – Fannin fully understands just how important it is to not only stay aware of the resources your school can offer, but to know what you can offer your school. Her advice? “Make the most of your time,” she says. “Get a good education and try hard in your classes. If you do believe in what DePaul is all about, spread a positive message about it.”  Those dual guitar lines come to mind again. Hey, what comes around… yeah, you get the idea.

For more information:

Posted by: COE Advising | April 14, 2011

Meet Calley O’Neil

Calley ONeil

Click. Clack. Click. Clack. That’s the sound you’re likely to hear just outside SAC 304. They’re rhythmic beats from the plastic keystrokes echoing out of the School of Education’s technological utopia, where the latest techy trends are uncovered, studied, practiced, and employed. You could call it a lab of sorts, or just go by its true name, the Center for Educational Technology.

To summarize, the Center for Educational Technology is where professionals in the field of education get tech-savvy. Faculty and staff within the School of Education depend on the Center for its knowledge, skills, and dispositions so that they may integrate these forms of media into their professional and academic endeavors. Because of this, the Center constantly researches new practices and tools, in addition to maintaining all the technological resources and equipment that the School of Education might use. Granted, in an age where technology changes faster than Brett Favre’s career plans, it’s a daunting task that the Center handles on a daily basis. More specifically, a task that Calley O’Neil handles.

O’Neil, who’s been with DePaul for over two years, not only knows technology, but she loves it. As the technology specialist within the Center for Educational Technology, O’Neil works with faculty on a daily routine, showcasing more practical uses of technology both in and out of the classroom.

“Technology is something that is very vast in the field of education,” O’Neil insists. “We assist faculty and staff members on how to use technology, whether it be in an online course, a hybrid course, or a face to face course.” She offers a few examples. Some faculty come to her seeking the best way to collect data, while others need a little more technical assistance, like say, introducing the class to a guest speaker…who’s still in Canada. “Those types of things come up and I just show people how to deal with them.” Easy come, easy go, right? Sort of.

In 2008, O’Neil graduated from the University of Minnesota in Duluth, where she received her BA in Art History and a BFA in Studio Art. It’s here, though, that she essentially cut her teeth in the field. For four years, she worked within a multimedia hub of sorts – fun fact: the university went paperless back in 2002 – and O’Neil contends that’s where her “brain was fixed”. She’s also from a family of teachers, which explains her incredible knack for patience. So, putting the two together, it’s no surprise that she’s the purveyor of fine truths for the Center for Educational Technology. She wouldn’t want it any other way, though. “I think it’s the most creative type of teaching you can have because no one has the same skills set.”

ONeil works with faculty on a daily basis.

It’s hard to not get excited with such a thriving culture. O’Neil describes several tools she promotes to the faculty. She name drops VoiceThread, a new and popular online tool that’s essentially a multimedia slide show that presents images, documents, and videos – sort of like Power Point. The catch is that participants can respond and enter comments in a variety of ways: voice, text, audio files, or video. This sort of unique collaboration not only enhances the student’s classroom experience, but also has the potential to reshape the way we look at online coursework. With so much media being shared, users can start forming online personalities previously lost in earlier online courses. Another tool O’Neil chats up is Skype and how it’s connected people all across the world. At its core, it’s an affordable medium for users to video chat online, but in the classroom, it’s a new way to bring a guest speaker into the classroom. In some cases, it’s the classroom itself; users log on and everyone can see each other. History 101 in your pajamas? Not far from the truth. Sure, it sounds like something out of The Jetsons, but it’s all happening right now.

“Everything in technology is awesome,” O’Neil pauses, “if everything goes right.” She understands how volatile a culture it may be. What practical user doesn’t? “I really wish that everything would be perfect, but it’s not. I always tell people: power outages happen, the internet doesn’t always work. It’s awful when that happens, but, and maybe this is the worst thing in the world to say, you just gotta go on and deal with it.”

O’Neil does her best to avoid what some might label “technological nightmares.” When testing different software, she considers a strong support system for users an absolute must. In other words, she needs to know there’s going to be answers around the corner in the event something crashes or little bugs start crawling about – metaphorically, of course. This could be anything from a comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions to something as ideal as an online help desk. She notes, “I don’t want to invest anyone’s time and money into something that may or may not even work.”

Another lesson in the computer lab.

It’s that mentality that keeps the operation afloat, and incredibly popular. Each week, O’Neil publishes updates in the CET Blog, which highlights different findings and what the Center happens to be working on. It’s not all about surfing the ‘net for techy goodies, either. Just last month, ‘ONeil attended Austin, TX’s ever popular South by Southwest Music + Film + Interactive Festival, to which she calls an “overwhelming and wonderful experience.” She raced around the Texas town for almost a week, attending different panels, witnessing new software, and networking with countless leaders in the industry. Naturally, she used her blog to document the trip and her discoveries. For example, she uncovered a new service called, Animoto, where professionals can upload their instructional videos to share with other like-minded individuals – think of a more education-focused YouTube. Very exciting.

At the end of the day, though, O’Neil wants teachers to understand that they can’t run away from technology. It’s an established facet of our culture and each day more and more operations find their way under its far encompassing umbrella. Some may argue there are those less fortunate to take part in this culture. Not everyone can afford a computer, not every family has access to the internet. True, but that won’t always be the case. In today’s society, at least in America, more and more technological opportunities are opening for public consumption, whether it be one’s local library or a computer lab at school. The key is finding them. As history has shown us, the way of the future will soon become the present.

No students here. Just faculty.

“If you’re going to be a teacher, know that you’re going to need to know how to use technology,” O’Neil digresses. “It’s best to start now where these resources are free to you.” Of all people, teachers should know this, but still, hesitations abound. Offering one last piece of advice, O’Neil concludes, “Give things a chance. Get frustrated, but get even. Figure out how to use it and don’t give up.”

So, what’d we learn here? For prospective educators like yourself, you can look forward to working in an electrifying environment (literally) that gives the playground, the lunch room, or the campus quad a run for its money. Bottom line? The classroom of today looks better than ever.

Just remember to stay plugged in.

For more information:

  • Center for Educational Technology – Get hip with what you’re faculty’s learning!
  • CET Blog – Isn’t Calley cool? Follow her and the rest of the CET weekly! Updates aplenty!
  • Google – Probably a “duh” for most of you. Here’s the door leading to all your answers.
  • South by Southwest – Interested? Beware! It’s not for the faint of heart. Good luck!

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