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Project Navigate: A Technology-Based Partnership with the U.S. Navy

Man in uniform holding childFrom 2005-2006, Eastern Connecticut State University partnered with the U.S. Navy to ensure that young children who attend U.S. Navy Child and Youth Programs receive the best possible care and education. Made possible by a $975,000 U.S. Department of Defense appropriation, Eastern pursued two strategies in developing a technology-based professional development program for preschool teachers.

Strategy 1: Technology-Based Child Assessment

Eastern faculty and staff worked directly with preschool teachers from the U.S. Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. The teachers learned to utilize technology to assess children's developmental progress and improve communications with families. Eastern provided New London teachers with laptop computers, digital cameras, high-speed wireless Internet access, and other technology that enabled them to share meaningful images of children with families. Teachers compiled photos, videos, and written documents into digital portfolios that summarized each child's progress tied to specific developmental milestones. Parents received the portfolios on CD and gained a much richer understanding of what their children were learning and what they could do to support their learning at home. Deployed parents were able to witness their child's growth and development from afar by receiving photos and videos via email.

Strategy 2: Teacher Training via Distance Learning

Eastern developed an interactive, self-paced training curriculum designed specifically for U.S. Navy teachers and caregivers. The training included videos of Navy teachers demonstrating effective teaching practices and addressed the specific needs of Navy families, such as supporting families facing deployment or a new move. The training curriculum was designed to be interactive, allowing teachers to make choices and receive immediate feedback, reflect on learning experiences, and interact with peers and/or Eastern faculty via web-based components. The training was adapted into video series Guiding Young Children's Behavior.