seal  Purdue News

June 5, 2003

Purdue’s Ackerman Center brings technology to citizenship

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University will help teachers use technological advances in their classrooms to teach children the pillars of American citizenship.

Teachers from around the state will develop methods to incorporate Internet technology in teaching citizenship during the 2003 Civic Education Institute, sponsored by Purdue’s James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship at the university's School of Education.

At the institute, from June 16-21, 14 teachers will explore the different facets of citizenship and develop their own lesson plans for teaching those elements by using the Internet and other computer-based activities.

"Most teachers go through very basic computer training, but it stops there," said Phillip VanFossen, Ackerman Center director and an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in Purdue’s School of Education. "They want to use that technology in their classrooms, and the little bit of training leaves them hungry for more. With this year’s institute, we can fill two needs."

Besides free participation, institute participants receive three hours of Purdue graduate credit and a $500 grant to implement their lesson plans when they return to their schools in the fall.

VanFossen said this year’s institute is the first step in the center’s long-term goal to provide online citizenship lesson plans for teachers nationwide. Teachers and scholars would be able to access the information to develop lesson plans that focus on the tenets of citizenship, allowing the center to reach thousands of teachers each year.

"It is required by law that Indiana schools incorporate citizenship education into their curricula, and it is important to support efforts by elementary and secondary teachers to teach citizenship in their classrooms," VanFossen said. "Those young students will grow into the leaders of this country, and our society will grow and strengthen the more they understand the underpinnings of the United States."

The James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship, was created in 1994 with a $2 million gift from James Ackerman, an Indianapolis cable television executive, and his wife, Lois. The center’s mission is to bring citizenship education to schools throughout Indiana and the rest of the country.

In addition to the summer institute, the center sponsors an annual presentation for hundreds of schoolchildren in conjunction with the Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference, workshops and civic education projects for teachers and students, and serves as a national resource for citizenship education materials.

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073,

Sources: Phillip VanFossen, (765) 494-2367,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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