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/ Home / Library / Articles on Education / Teaching & Teacher Education / Enhancing Technology Infusion Through PK-12/Teacher Education Partnerships

Enhancing Technology Infusion Through PK-12/Teacher Education Partnerships

Author: Mary A. Lundeberg, So-Young Zeon, and Jeffrey Parsons
Date: 1999

The current emphasis on technology infusion in P-20 curriculum highlights an opportunity for productive partnerships between universities and PK-12 schools. Just having access to technology does not ensure that teachers are using technology well; teachers need professional development focused on integrating technology into the school curriculum (Fatemi, 1999). Moreover, preservice teachers need field placements in PK-12 technology-rich classrooms to further their understanding of effective teaching with technology (Abdal-Haqq, 1995). This digest examines how universities and schools can work together to provide professional development opportunities and inservice training to integrate technology into the curriculum.

Paradigm Shifts in Professional Development
In the past, professional development programs on technology often followed a production input/output model or a teacher deficiency model (Shroyer, 1990; Smylie & Conyers, 1991). Typically, principals hired outside consultants, such as university professors, to conduct after-school workshops or summer seminars on the latest educational developments in technology, with the goal of teachers adopting these practices. Problems frequently occurred with teachers using software to create curriculum materials, only to later discover that the university software was incompatible with the school's systems.

In contrast to professional development models of the past, recent research emphasizes the need for shared -- rather than hierarchical -- decision-making, informal leadership, and positive, supportive climates (Wu, 1988; Shroyer, 1990; Smylie and Conyers, 1991). Teachers need and prefer individualized and on-site technology professional development focused on their particular curriculum ideas using their own computers/equipment (Foa, Schwab & Johnson, 1998).

Partnerships between universities and PK-12 schools can ensure effective professional development opportunities in technology. Although numerous partnership models exist, collaborative approaches to professional development among universities and PK-12 schools will be most successful if they meet the individual curricular needs of teachers, encourage the sharing of resources among all partners, and focus on pedagogy using teachers as change agents.

Grounded in Teachers' Needs
Involving teachers in the planning stages will ensure that professional development opportunities are grounded in teachers' needs and that the teachers will become effective change agents in their schools. These teacher-leaders can develop their own curriculum-grounded technology skills and then share these skills with teachers at their schools. This cycle of growth can alleviate one of the most critical barriers to technology integration -- teachers may have technology skills, but lack the knowledge for meaningful curricular integration of these skills (Fatemi, 1999).

Shared Resources
Partnerships with the university across school districts can be a valuable means of sharing equipment, skills, policies and people. Most districts and universities cannot afford to hire enough technology consultants to adequately service hardware concerns, not to mention software, policy and curriculum issues. Effective partnerships need seminars and web discussions to facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources and to overcome some of the obstacles inherent in technology infusion. For example, the University of Texas Learning Technology Center created partnerships with two school districts to explore network-based tools to help change teacher practices toward more student-centered approaches to learning (Resta, 1998).

Emphasis on Pedagogy Rather than Skills
Technology has become the catalyst for ongoing discussion about restructuring schools, curriculum, pedagogy, student learning, and assessment. However, it is not the technology itself but rather the way in which teachers use technology that has the potential to change education (Carr, Jonassen, Litzinger, & Marra, 1998). Seminars that focus participants on pedagogical issues and not simply technical skills allow for critical reflection on what students are learning from the integration of technology in the classroom.

Partnership Models
Partnership models may involve a wide range of entities and structures. At a simple structural level, partnerships between one teacher and one university professor allow for content- specific pedagogical collaborations. For example, an English language arts professor formed a school/university partnership to connect preservice students with sixth grade students using email to initiate a writing relationship (Reising & Pope, 1999). College students responded to sixth grade students' writing. As a result, the middle school students' writing improved and future teachers improved their ability to make clear comments in responding to students writing (Reising & Pope, 1999).

On a larger scale, the University of Michigan Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education collaborated with Ann Arbor and Detroit Public Schools to develop technology- embedded science curricula for schools ( This group has developed several software products to support middle school science students' inquiry, scientific analysis, and scientific modeling. For example, the Digital Library (UMDL) Project has provided classrooms in grades 6-12 with teaching and learning materials on Earth and Space Science resources on line (Wallace, Krajcik & Soloway, 1996). The framework for these materials is based on an inquiry, project-based learning model, in which students investigate questions, form learning communities, use technology to gather, represent and share ideas (Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx & Soloway, 1994). In addition to producing and testing science-related technology curricula, the group also offers professional development workshops for teachers.

Partnerships focused on one subject area, such as the University of Michigan Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education Project, work especially well with content-focused middle and high school teachers in densely populated areas such as Detroit. For rural areas and elementary teachers, an interdisciplinary approach that attempts to reach the entire school may be more feasible.

TIPS (Technologies in Pedagogical Strategies) is an interdisciplinary rural school/university consortium that attempts to join all of the successful components of partnerships mentioned above. TIPS is a collaborative effort among a college of education, three school districts, and a parochial school. Using interns, providing release time for teachers and teacher-leaders, writing competitive grant proposals, and conducting action research are the four pillars of this partnership model. The model is circular: It begins with technologically proficient interns who take over classes for the cooperating teachers. The teachers are released to research technology integration into the curricular framework. The interns and the students receive instruction in applying technology in an increasing number of settings. The university not only provides professional development needs for both teachers and interns - the critical link to student learning through technology - but also encourages teachers to assume leadership roles in the planning of professional development workshops.

In the TIPS partnership, 86 teachers wrote competitive grant proposals outlining how they planned to use technology with respect to state and national standards. Teacher-leaders became the technology experts, collaborating with their colleagues on integration issues. Teacher- leaders' responsibilities were to assess the local technology/pedagogy needs, hold workshops, work with faculty, and team-teach. Monthly seminars supported both the teacher-leaders and the interns in their professional growth. The partnership provided workshops and technology assistance for teacher-leaders, interns and on-site staff driven by participants' needs. Likewise, the workshops and technology assistance, provided by the teacher-leaders to other staff, were based on an assessment of staff needs. These topics are shown on the Technology page of the Web site:

Teacher-leaders also arranged meetings among themselves to share expertise in small group settings. Within their schools, teacher-leaders worked individually with staff and offered mini-workshops on software applications, Internet searches, team-teaching technology and project-based lessons, trouble-shooting computer problems, and assisting teachers with hardware peripherals such as scanners, digital cameras, and projection devices. In schools and classrooms, teachers developed student cadre groups who shared computer expertise with peers and other staff. Thus, the leadership model initiated by the teacher-leaders also shaped leadership among students in the school.

Evaluation of the TIPS Model
After establishing the vision and goals of the TIPS school-university partnership, the model was evaluated with action research (Cochran-& Lytle, 1993 and 1999). The data showed that school staff increased their confidence in using technology in their classrooms to enhance student learning. Most teachers had an opportunity to use what they learned about technology in their classes (some were learning grading programs, which weren't curricular in nature). Teachers also reported becoming both more productive and effective in the classroom as a result of the assistance they received through this project. (See the Assessment page of the TIPS Web site for more specific analysis of the evaluation data collected.)

Recent survey results show positive trends in technology infusion in some preservice teacher education programs (Beck & Wynn 1998). However, the university partnership link to PK-12 schools often comes at the point of student teaching, after which the technology infusion may or may not continue. Universities and schools must work together to offer professional development opportunities focused on integrating technology into the school curriculum. These partnerships will be most succcessful if teachers and professors operate as a team and the professional development workshops are focused on teacher needs at the individual schools.


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Beck, J. & Wynn, H. (1998). Technology in teacher education: Progress along the continuum. Washington, D.C.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education. ED424212.

Carr, A., Jonassen, D., Litzinger M., & Marra, R. (1998). Good ideas to foment educational revolution: The role of systematic change in advancing situated learning, constructivism, and feminist pedagogy. Educational Technology, January-February, 5-14.

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Foa, L., Schwab, R. & Johnson, M. (1998). Introducing technologies into the schools: Triumph or train wreck? (National Education Association Technology Brief No. 13). Retrieved April 1, 1999 from world wide web:

Krajcik, J.S., Blumenfeld, P.C., Marx, R.W., & Soloway, E. (1998). A collaborative model for helping middle grade science teachers learn project-based instruction. The Elementary School Journal, 94 (5), 483-497.

Reising, B., & Pope, C. (1999). Technology in language arts education. Clearing House, 72. Resta, P. (1998). Collaborative technologies as a catalyst for changing teacher practices. Proceedings of the World Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia & World Conference on Educational Telecommunications 10th International Conference.

Shroyer, Gail M. (1990). Effective staff development for effective organization development. Journal of Staff Development, 11 (1), 2-6.

Smylie, Mark A. & Conyers, John G. (1991). Changing conceptions of teaching influence the future of staff development. Journal of Staff Development, 12 (1), 12-16.

Wallace, Krajcik & Soloway. (1996). Digital libraries in the science Classroom. D-Lib Magazine, September. Retrieved November 30, 1999 from

Wu, P.C. (1988). Why is change difficult? Lessons for staff development. Journal of Staff Development, 9 (2), 10-14.

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