The USF Florida Center for Instructional Computing (FCIC) was established by the Florida Legislature in 1982. William Engle was the first director of the center, followed by Andria Troutman and James White. In 1992 the name of the center became the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT); however, the mission remained the same. For over 20 years, the FCIC/FCIT has provided leadership and support services to educators with regard to the integration of technology in education. Throughout the years, the Center has served two primary groups of clientele: in-service K-12 teachers and pre-service teachers in the College of Education.
In addition to funding from the Florida Department of Education, the Center has continuously sought external funding. For example, major grants from IBM in the 1980s helped to familiarize schools with microcomputers and served as a catalyst for the creation of the Instructional Technology graduate programs at USF, which now reside in the Secondary Education Department.
In the 1990s, Stephanie VanDeventer became director of the center, followed by Andria Troutman, Ann Barron, and Roy Winkelman. The Center is currently under the direction of James Takacs, Executive Director; Roy Winkelman, Director; James Welsh, Assistant Director; and Shannon White, Assistant Director. As of 2006, the Center employs 12 technology specialists who work on various grant projects.
Over the past 20 years, millions of dollars of grant funds have been awarded to FCIC/FCIT. The Center has achieved worldwide recognition through its delivery of technology workshops and the development of a variety of projects and products. Among the 29 projects on the FCIT website are the following:
@MICRO – From 1985 through 1992, the Center conducted and published formal evaluations of educational software and maintained a software preview center in the College of Education. This project was one of the first educational evaluation projects in North America and earned a reputation for quality and consistency.
TNT (Technology ‘Nformation for Teachers) – From approximately 1992 through 1996, the Center produced and maintained a lesson plan database that utilized highly rated software and could be identified through a search. The lesson plans were developed by classroom teachers to fit into existing curricula and to cover a broad range of topics and subject areas. Additionally, the Center developed the MAST database; this database provided information on new releases of software products as they came to market.
FIRN Simulations – With the advent of the Internet, the Florida Information Resource Network became a vital link for Florida educators. Between 1992 and 1996, the Center produced instruction booklets and simulations to assist educators in accessing and using the FIRN system for educational purposes.
Instructional Booklets – In the late 1990s, FCIT produced a variety of instructional booklets and disseminated thousands of copies to teachers throughout Florida. These booklets have been updated on a regular basis and are now available on the FCIT website. Booklets include: Educator’s Guide to School Networks, Teacher’s Guide to Distance Learning, and Internet and Education.
Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust – Responding to a statewide mandate for Holocaust education, FCIT produced an online resource called the Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust. This website provides thousands of images, videos, lesson plans, and source documents for teachers. The website currently receives approximately a million hits a week.
Exploring Florida – The website Exploring Florida provides free Photographs, maps, movies, music and a bibliography of Florida-related materials to assist teachers in teaching social studies.
FCAT Express – This online resource provides a series of five tutorials designed to teach Reading in Grades 4, 8 and 10 and a Math staff development tool for grades 5 and 8.
ClipArt – This website is a free collection of over a thousand searchable segments of clip art with categories including Animals, Arts, Business and Industry, Countries, Government, History, Literature, People, Plants, Science, Sports and Transportation.
Lit2Go – Lit2Go is an online collection of literature by noted authors, appropriate for K-12 students. The works can be read online, printed from PDF format, or downloaded in MP3 format for listening. The literature is searchable by title and author, and the reading level, theme, number of pages and listening time are provided.