ISU's Thompson makes Tech & Learning's list of 10 most influential people in ed tech

AMES, Iowa -- When it comes to using the power of technology to transform learning, Iowa State University's Ann Thompson is one of "The Big 10" nationally. So says the June issue of Tech & Learning magazine, which named Thompson -- a University Professor and founding director of Iowa State's Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching -- one of its "10 most influential people in ed tech for 2011."

"We believe that these men and women will profoundly change the way we think about learning in school, how we use technology to effect that change, and how we incorporate policies that make that change nationwide," wrote Kevin Hogan, the magazine's editorial director, about the list of honorees.

An editor of the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Thompson is cited by Tech & Learning writer Sascha Zuger as being "a spokesperson and motivator who prepares teachers to create active, problem-solving environments via tech." Thompson is also honored for developing the ISU College of Human Sciences' technology mentoring program, which now serves as a national model.

"Dr. Thompson not only inspires practicing teachers through forums for sharing research and development, but also promotes a new generation of educators who are comfortable with tech and confident in its role in the classroom," Zuger wrote.

Thompson is honored to be on the magazine's list of educational technology leaders for her work, which she considers to be her passion.

"My major contribution is in the area of technology and teacher education and preparing teachers to be able to use technology in ways that expand their classrooms," Thompson said. "That has always been my focus and vision -- using technology to do things that educators are not able to do without the technology."

For nearly 20 years, Thompson has seen her students connect classrooms from around the world, much like Cisco documented in this television ad.

"I have students who have connected their fourth grade classrooms with students in England and Turkey and really broken downs the walls of the classroom to allow students to have meaningful interactions with students from other countries," she said. "Typically what we encourage our students to do is shared projects -- working together on projects involving weather, or history, etc. -- with students in another country, or possibly another part of this country.

"It's not just saying 'Hi,'" she continued. "It's getting the opportunity to work globally by encouraging the idea of project learning with students in different places. Even in early elementary school, students can now have the opportunity to work on authentic problems in global teams and thus begin to prepare for the type of international collaboration that will be a significant part of many of their careers."

Thompson is also proud of developing the college's technology mentoring program, which pairs teacher education faculty members with graduate students and allows the students to mentor the faculty on how to make more effective use of technology in their classrooms.

Other honorees on the Tech & Learning magazine list include Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education; Doug Levin, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association; Gregg Festa, founder and director of the ADP Center for Teacher Preparation and Learning Technologies at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J.; David Warlick, founder of the Landmark Project; John Kao, chairman of the Global Advisory Council on Innovation of the World Economic Forum; Salman Kahn, creator of the Khan Academy; Punya Mishra, co-chair of the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education conference and a professor of educational technology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.; Jonathan Ive and the Apple Design Team; and the Google for Educators Development Team.