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Making Connections: Collaborative Approaches to Preparing Today's and Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology

Making Connections: Collaborative Approaches to Preparing Today’s and Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology
Cheryl L Rosaen, Sharon Hobson, and Ghazala Khan

A collaborative approach was developed to support the professional development of teacher candidates, collaborating teachers (CTs) and teacher educators in learning to use technology for professional and pedagogical uses. Collaboration with K-5 teachers was undertaken to build the teachers’ capacities to use technology in meaningful ways in their classroom and school, with the intent to develop technology-rich sites for teacher candidates’ learning. A study of teacher candidates’ (n=24) and CTs’ (n=15) experiences during one school year indicated that both groups learned to use technology for a variety of pedagogical and professional uses, and teacher candidates had ample opportunities to work with technology. Moreover, teacher candidates shared their growing expertise with more experienced teachers by assisting their collaborating teachers with technology, a reversal of roles usually played in a mentoring situation. Nevertheless, the study also revealed that little collaboration and interactive dialogue about technology and its potential took place between 12 teacher candidates and CT pairs. Further steps are needed to create the culture of collaboration and reciprocity envisioned, where teacher candidates and CTs work together to use and appraise technology and to think critically about meaningful technology integration into the K-5 curriculum.

All technical progress has three kinds of effects: the desired, the foreseen, and the unforeseen. Ellul (1990, p. 61)

Today’s novice teachers face many challenges. They must learn to teach for understanding in ways that are consistent with high professional standards (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards [NBPTS], 1989; National Council of Teachers of English/International Reading Association [NCTE/IRA], 1996; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 1991). They are also expected to understand and use technology in flexible, adaptive, and powerful ways to support their own and their students’ learning (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 1999; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE], 1997). For teacher educators, tackling these pedagogical challenges is complex because there can be great variation in teacher candidates’ entering knowledge, skills, and dispositions in using technology (Laffey & Musser, 1998; Willis & Mehlinger, 1996). There is similar variation in technology knowledge and use between two groups responsible for supporting novice teachers’ learning: teacher educators, and the classroom teachers who work with teacher candidates in schools (Fox, Thompson, & Chang, 1996; Niederhauser & Stoddart, 1994; Willis & Mehlinger, 1996). When teacher preparation program technology requirements were adopted several years ago, our faculty decided to infuse work toward those requirements into existing courses, instead of offering a separate course, so that information technology could be linked with the substance of the program (Gillingham & Topper, 1999). The challenge was to embed meaningful uses of technology within course offerings and school-based field work such that teacher candidates would learn to use technology in support of their own professional learning and in support of the learning of K-8 students.

With support from the U. S. Department of Education’s program for Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to use Technology (PT3), a collaborative approach was developed to support the professional development of teacher candidates, collaborating teachers (K-5) and teacher educators in learning to use technology for professional and pedagogical uses. These efforts, undertaken in a senior-year course on methods of teaching literacy and math in Michigan State University’s Teacher Preparation Program,(FN1) were intended primarily to develop teacher candidates’ knowledge, skill and disposition to use technology both within their professional course work and in the K-5 schools where they spent four hours per week in their collaborating teacher’s (CT) classroom. Collaboration with K-5 teachers was undertaken to build the teachers’ capacities to use technology in meaningful ways in their classroom and school, with the intent to develop technology-rich sites for teacher candidates’ learning, and thus promote greater coherence between teacher candidates’ course and classroom experiences. Through these efforts to infuse technology into a teacher education course and model its uses in a variety of ways, new insights were gained into the power of technology as a professional and pedagogical tool.

This article begins with a discussion of the perspectives that guided the approaches taken to integrating technology. Next, the research questions and methods of inquiry are described. The third and fourth sections discuss teacher candidates’ and collaborating teachers’ learning. The fifth section discusses findings from analysis of the joint work of pairs of collaborating teachers and teacher candidates to understand the extent to which they worked collaboratively and reciprocally in learning to use technology. The concluding section discusses what was accomplished–the desired, foreseen and the unseen in these efforts–and next steps for working toward the desired goals.

Link: http://uwashington.worldcat.org/oclc/301582776 Off-Campus Access

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