UA Making International Connections One Click at a Time
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For one University of Alabama professor, it is all about connecting.
For more than three decades, Dr. Barrie Jo Price has worked to bring those in the international community closer together through the use of technology.
“We’re connecting them to the world,” said Price, a professor in UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences’ Institute for Interactive Technology.
In recognition of her dedication to the international community, UA’s College of Education has established the Barrie Jo Price Award for Innovative Technology Use in International Schools. The award, which will be presented annually at the Association for the Advancement of International Education in February, will recognize individuals or teaching teams internationally who are doing something innovative with technology.
Nominations come from international educational communities and organizations for review by a panel of UA alumni and technology leaders.
“Since 1966, (UA’s College of Education International Programs) has offered professional development and degree programs to teachers at private international schools throughout the world,” said Dr. Robert Summers, director of International Programs. “Dr. Price has been doing this longer than anyone else at UA. We couldn’t think of a better person for whom to name the award.”
While humbled by the honor, Price acknowledged that her accomplishments really reflect the work of a long-standing group of colleagues: Dr. George E. Marsh II, now deceased, and Dr. Anna McFadden, also a professor in the Institute for Interactive Technology.
The three professors, who have worked together since the mid-1970s and at two other universities before coming to Alabama 24 years ago, believe in the same values UA is honoring with this award: dedication to sharing information and teamwork.
The group’s initial involvement with the overseas community began in the late 1970s. Each with a background in special education, they were tasked with helping embassies work with families who had special needs students. The three then discovered Apple and delved into technology advancement. They started working with different international private schools, nonprofits, government groups and various ministries in setting up computers and, eventually, satellite classes and Internet access.
“Her efforts essentially brought these schools into the 21st century, further developing their curriculum and building up her reputation,” said Dr. James McLean, former dean of UA’s College of Education and professor of educational research in the department of educational studies in psychology, research methodology, and counseling.
Price was often the spokeswoman for the group, traveling on behalf of UA’s graduate education programs and demonstrating new trends in technology in schools.
“These schools really represent a window on the world, and the kids in these schools will eventually be our world leaders,” said Price. “You certainly want to make sure that they have every opportunity and every tool available to them.”
UA’s work in the international arena not only benefits the international schools and their students, but it also provides an opportunity for the University’s faculty to immerse themselves in different cultures while they are working overseas with the international faculty and school administrators.
“They see what’s really happening in other countries, and that plays a role in their teaching here,” said McLean. “It helps ensure our curriculum is an international curriculum.”
It also helps with advanced student recruitment. Many teachers working in the international schools will finish their time, return to the United States and come to UA to begin work on their doctorate, he added.
But for Price and McFadden, their work is about empowering and helping individuals or groups while representing UA in a global environment. It means sharing new technologies and building teams to use those technologies.
“Isn’t that what higher education is all about?” Price asked. “With this award, UA is recognizing two core concepts: the idea of sharing what you know and teamwork. It’s not about me. It’s about Alabama’s core values that were here before I came and will be around long after I’m gone. That’s what we’re known for in the international community.”
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.