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Enhancing Technology Infusion Through PK-12/Teacher Education Partnerships
Author: Mary A. Lundeberg, So-Young Zeon, and Jeffrey Parsons
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 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
Emphasis on Pedagogy Rather than Skills
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 (http://www.hi-ce.org). 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.
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: http://www.uwrf.edu/college-of-education/goals2000/welcome.html.
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
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