Improving the process of education

Improving the process of education

Nakatani Center applies research and technology to teaching

UW-Stout's Nakatani Center can make its own CD-ROMs that store as much information as 500 computer discs. Even computer novices can begin to understand the impressiveness of that potential.

The wealth of knowledge that that represents is, however, unfathomable, even to the educators who use the Nakatani Center to learn how better to dispense that knowledge.

Constantly improving the process of education is the vision of the Nakatani Center. Through the integration of cross-disciplinary processes that employ technology, research and partnerships with business, industry and education, the art and science of teaching can be greatly refined.

In times of increasing budget cuts and belt tightening, opening high-tech centers like this one is difficult, if not impossible. But UW-Stout's Nakatani Center was made possible through an endowment from the family estate of a Stout alumnus, Arthur Nakatani. According to Joe Hagaman, director of the center, operating expenses are kept at a minimum. "We are living off the interest of the endowment," Hagaman said. "We still have the one and a half million."

Arthur Nakatani, an elementary school teacher in the District of Kona, Hawaii, passed away in 1989 while still in his 30s. At the death of his mother, Kiyo Nakatani, a bequest from her estate in memory of Arthur was endowed to UW-Stout. UW-Stout was then able to open the center to provide an extensive program of workshops, campus conferences, professional support for educators as well as technological linkages among a multitude of constituencies.

"The Nakatani Center's environment will provide stimulating, nurturing and pluralistic learning experiences for educators and their students," Hagaman said. "It will capitalize on the strengths of Stout to help provide cutting edge innovations in the design and application of research and technology to teaching."

Primary emphasis at the center currently is to provide support to faculty and staff through the grants they write, according to Hagaman. He noted that $40,000 in grants were awarded this past year.

Other activities include establishing a World Wide Web workstation at the Library Learning Center; providing multimedia training and development programs; videoconferences on the uses of instructional technologies; continued development of the Nakatani Web site; promoting partnerships with business, industry and education; and a summer academy for K-12 educators. The bottom line is to help educators to better use technology in their teaching.

It is said that Arthur Nakatani, from a wealthy family, chose to teach because he loved it. It seems appropriate that the bequest that launched the UW-Stout facility will benefit others dedicated to teaching, like Arthur Nakatani.

Outlook Winter '96