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Technology in Teacher Education: Progress Along the Continuum
Author: Judy A. Beck and Harriet C. Wynn
Schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDEs) may be placed along a continuum in their integration of technology. The 1995 Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) report, Teachers & Technology: Making the Connection, spoke to one end of the continuum when it raised two important points--that "technology is not central to the teacher preparation experience" and that "most technology instruction . . . is teaching about technology . . . not teaching with technology across the curriculum" (p. 165). However, the other end of the continuum has been captured by Pellegrino and Altman in the design dimensions outlined below. These dimensions illustrate "changing courses and changing thinking" and provide a conceptual framework to describe the work of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University (TN) in incorporating technology in teacher education:
The first design dimension . . . involves moving students from consumers and participant observers of technology-based learning applications to producers of content applications appropriate for their own teaching. . . . The second design dimension . . . involves the shift of technology applications from supplementary to central in a given course's learning activities. . . . The third design dimension. . . . represents a gradual and progressive increase in the sophistication and complexity of the technology-based applications that students experience in a course. In part, this dimension captures the fact that over the length of their teacher preparation program students mature in their own understanding and sophistication with respect to content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and knowledge of technology. (1997, pp. 96-99)
This Digest will review preservice student and teacher education faculty use of technology and SCDE institutional capacity. Several examples of SCDE programs that have integrated technology into teacher education will be presented and factors supporting change will be highlighted.
A Snapshot of SCDE Integration of Technology
During the fall of 1996, a survey on technology was distributed to member institutions responsible for teacher education programs as part of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Joint Data Collection System. The study shows a number of positive aspects of the use and potential use of both basic and interactive information technologies within teacher education (Persichitte, Tharp, & Caffarella, 1997). While there is room for improvement in technology utilization, the idea that schools of education are technologically bankrupt is not supported. To the contrary, in student use, faculty use, and institutional capacity, SCDEs are moving forward and in some cases, leading the way.
Preservice Student Use of Technology
As the survey results indicate, trends for using technology in on-campus classes are positive. However, use of technology does drop off during student teaching. Schools of education have been encouraged to continue to identify and implement technology-rich instructional strategies within required preparation course work.
Faculty Use of Technology
These findings are encouraging as current literature continues to stress the importance of the use and modeling of multiple technologies by higher education faculty responsible for the preparation of future teachers. Faculty use technology to present information during class, to conduct research, and to communicate with their peers.
Programs Model Technology Integration
Three schools of education that have been identified as having implemented long-term efforts to integrate technology throughout their programs are Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia; College of Education and Human Services, Western Illinois University; and College of Education, Michigan State University (AACTE, 1998).
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
College of Education and Human Services, Western
College of Education, Michigan State University
Support for Change
The OTA report cited "time, limited resources, faculty comfort level and attitudes, and little institutional encouragement for technology use" as barriers to a more integrated use of technology in SCDEs (1995, p. 187). A group of deans from teacher education institutions in the northeast cited a similar list in late 1997--with lack of funding leading the way. Of the 93% of responding institutions to the 1996 AACTE/NCATE survey that have plans for purchasing, replacing, and upgrading technology, only 55% have budgets for such actions. Up to this point, federal and state monies that have been made available for educational technology advancements and professional development have not been accessible to higher education. The E-Rate discounts do not apply to schools of education or their libraries. SCDEs are learning to make the case within their own institutions for technology-related funding and are forming partnerships and consortia to strengthen resources.
NCATE is in the process of revising its standards for implementation in the year 2000. Current unit standards reflect recommendations from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). New standards for the infusion of technology in teacher education programs and a vision for what skills and understandings graduating students should bring into the classroom will be a significant facet of the revisions (NCATE, 1997). As states require more capability with technology through licensing and certification standards, schools of education will align programs to produce new teachers able to meet those requirements.
Positive Movement on the Continuum
The National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, in its report What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future (1996), posed this challenge: "Schools of education . . . need to model how to teach for understanding in a multicultural context, how to continually assess and respond to student learning, and how to use new technologies in doing so" (p.77). America's schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing much more to meet that challenge than is commonly believed. The teachers of tomorrow are being prepared today in environments that increasingly are infused with technology, moving toward the reality of the 21st century.
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (1998). Best Practice: Innovative use of technology award. Press release. Washington, DC: Author.
Curry School of Education. (1997). The Curry School technology strand. Unpublished manuscript, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Michigan State University. (1997). Learning and teaching with technology. East Lansing: Author.
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. (1996). What matters most: Teaching for America's future. New York: Author. ED395931
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (1997). Technology and the new professional teacher. Preparing for the 21st century classroom. Washington, DC: Author.
Pellegrino, J. W., & Altman, J. E. (1997). Information technology and teacher preparation: Some critical issues and illustrative solutions. Peabody Journal of Education, 72(1), 89-121.
Persichitte, K. A., Tharp, D. D., & Caffarella, E. P. (1997). The use of technology by schools, colleges, and departments of education: 1996. Unpublished manuscript, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Washington, DC.
Smith, B., Barker, B., Baker, , & Dickson, M. (1996). Tools for teaching with technology. The WIU approach to integrating technology into teacher education. Macomb, IL: Western Illinois Unviersity. ED404307
U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. (1995). Teachers & technology: Making the connection. OTA-EHR-616. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. ED386155
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