Sunday, February 19, 2012

Technology Education for Pre-Service Teachers - Guest Post

Like practicing educators, today’s pre-service teachers are faced with the challenge of connecting with 21st century learners. Despite the fact that many of these teaching candidates are proficient with technology for personal use, university teacher education programs must prepare them to integrate technology effectively in their content areas. I am currently teaching Technology in the Classroom to a class of pre-service teachers, mostly seniors in their student teaching semester. The learning goals I have developed for this course are that students will:
  • develop and sustain a personal learning network for continual professional growth
  • design a website for communicating with students, parents, and other stakeholders
  • understand and apply the TPACK framework within their content areas
  • identify and reflect on applications of technology tools in classrooms
  • create a multimedia presentation to teach integration of a technology tool
  • utilize Web 2.0 tools and identify their applications for teaching and learning
It is entirely impossible for me to teach these pre-service teachers everything they need to know about instructional technology in a 1-credit hour course, so one of my major goals for this semester is to assist them in developing their own Personal Learning Networks. Through investing time in establishing a PLN and making connections with other educators, they are creating a process for continuous learning that I envision will have huge pay-offs for them, their future students, their colleagues, and others in their PLNs. For this semester-long PLN assignment, students are required to post at least 3 course-related tweets each week and to interact through Twitter with classmates and others in their PLN. Using Twitter as a learning tool in this course has allowed them to envision the learning possibilities such a tool can offer. The students have already shared a wealth of information and ideas, learning so much from each other and their PLNs. We invite you to join in on our conversations about educational technology using #edu451.

Not only do I want these teaching candidates to establish networks for lifelong learning and continuous improvement, I also want to help them develop a framework that can guide their instructional decisions about technology integration. The TPACK framework, which stands for technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge, provides a model for effective technology integration by encouraging teachers to make purposeful decisions about when and why to use technology and within what context.
Image from

TPACK is based on the need for teachers to use technology to support effective instructional strategies aligned with their content. I want these soon-to-be teachers to understand that using technology in the classroom is not about tools but about teaching and learning. We have spent a great deal of time face-to-face and online discussing the TPACK framework and its implications for them currently as well as in their future classrooms. I asked my students to create a visual representation of their own technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge for their specific discipline and grade level(s). Most students seemed to have a fairly easy time identifying their specific content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge. The difficult task was in describing the overlapping domains of knowledge - pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) for example. Below you will find a few pieces of my students' TPACK projects representing these overlapping domains. You can see that working with this framework is helping these teaching candidates make purposeful decisions about teaching their content and understand how technology can be leveraged to improve teaching and increase learning. To learn more about TPACK, watch this or go here.

My students were more than willing to share their perspectives on technology integration throughout their teacher education program to date, including coursework and field experiences, and their goals for using technology in their future classrooms.

“There is one publicly available SMART Board in our university. I have never seen it incorporated in a full lesson. Without ever seeing one in action, I set out for my student teaching internship in secondary Spanish. Imagine my surprise when I saw a SMART Board being used in class, and my embarrassment at never having used one. The students used other sorts of technology, such as flip cams, to script, act in and record commercials in Spanish -- projects that would imitate real life teamwork and would be more effective than worksheets or grammar drills. They love it, and are motivated to use it. This should serve as a reminder that students want to learn, and it is up to us to ensure that our lessons retain that enthusiasm, and not kill it with drills and endless worksheets. The future holds a challenge of discerning which technologies will revolutionize and which ones are hype.”
    -Cara Zell, Elementary Education

“Throughout my college career, I really have not used a whole lot of technology in my coursework. Other than preparing presentations via Powerpoint/Prezi, I haven't had a lot of exposure to it in the classroom. As I am now in my student teaching, I am seeing how vital it is to keep adolescents engaged in the learning process. Using laptops, iPads, SMART Boards, Prezi presentations, etc. are just a few items that I will be implementing into my teaching this semester. We need to give students their best shot at succeeding in the 21st century world, and implementing technology into the classroom is just one of the ways to prepare them for the world that is ahead of them.”
-Erin DeBord, Middle Grades Social Studies and English Language Arts

I believe that teacher educators should aim to help teaching candidates establish a process for continuous learning and develop a framework for how technology can influence teaching and learning, and I am attempting to meet those goals through this course. Please share your comments about how teacher education programs and in-service professional development practices can prepare teachers to better meet the needs of today’s learners.

About the Guest Blogger
Jayme Linton currently serves as Director of Teacher Education at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina. Previously, she has held positions as Instructional Technology Facilitator, Staff Development Coordinator, and Instructional Coach for Newton-Conover City Schools. Jayme is a doctoral student in the Teacher Education and Development Ph.D. program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is also a SimpleK12 webinar leader and has presented for the Global Education Conference and K-12 Online Conference. Jayme is passionate about technology for teaching and learning and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with Jayme on Twitter @jaymelinton and check out her blogs: Tech Tips for Teachers and iPads in School.