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Educator uses many forms of technology
to help kids learn problem-solving skills
March 2, 1998

When the subject is Michael Young, an associate professor of educational psychology, his department head is at no loss for words.

"Mike is the most competent and extensive user of instructional technology I have ever met," says Scott Brown. "Mike Young is a leader and mentor and role model in the use of instructional technology. He teaches courses in the use of instructional technology at the undergraduate level and in our most sophisticated graduate courses. His impact on this campus is profound and widespread. He has a local and national reputation in the field of educational technology and he has brought positive recognition to this department and this University because of his expertise."

Thursday, his acclaim will extend beyond Gentry Building as Young accepts one of six Chancellor's Information Technology Awards.

Young's forays into the world of information technology include work with computers, video-conferencing, and videodiscs. He has worked across departmental lines with professors in chemistry, engineering, physics, pharmacy, psychology, and geography, among others.

"Interdisciplinary work is one of the tricks that help kids learn," Young says. "Instead of teaching them about Connecticut's geography by the book, we give them problems (using a computer or videodisc). They can see the maps, elevations, wetlands, and we can ask them where would you put a theme park? Where would you locate Route 6? We can ask them to think spatially."

Or, he says, using calculator or computer-based probes, students can measure the ph level of a pond or stream near their school, then upload the information onto the National Geographic Kids Network, where they can study similar data from other parts of the state or country. This allows them to locate patterns and see how their data compares and enhances existing data.

Young also is widely noted for the Jasper Woodbury videodisc series. Woodbury, a computerized character, is programmed to tell stories using "real world" information. Students must then piece together as many as 15-20 bits of information gleaned from the story not only to solve problems but to frame the questions they must answer.

Richard Veilleux