This Digest examines the relationship between K-12 teachers' use of computer-based technologies to deliver and support classroom instruction and the training provided to prospective teachers by teacher education institutions. It offers an overview of obstacles faced by teacher educators in providing appropriate technology instruction and outlines approaches to addressing these obstacles.
TEACHER USE OF INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES: DEMANDS &
OBSTACLESSeveral factors have conspired to produce the expectation, and in some instances the requirement, that today's K-12 teachers possess among their qualifications the ability to utilize instructional technology, particularly computer-based technologies. These factors include: (1) the need to provide relevant and authentic instruction that reflects contemporary and future social and economic demands on students (Thornburg, 1992); (2) the compatibility of certain computer-based technologies with newer, research-based approaches to teaching and learning (Bracey, 1993; Campoy, 1992; Sheingold, 1991; Thornburg, 1992); (3) student and parent expectations (Topp, Mortensen, & Grandgenett, 1995); and (4) guidelines and mandates from federal, state, district, and professional bodies (Ramirez & Bell, 1994; Thomas, 1994; Widmer & Amburgey, 1994).
The Office of Technology Assessment (1995b) estimates that the number of computers in K-12 schools increased by 300,000 to 400,000 a year during the past decade. The total number of computers in schools is estimated to reach 5.8 million during 1995, one for every nine students. Despite this growth, a number of investigations into computer use in K-12 classrooms have concluded that computer-based technologies are not being fully exploited by the majority of teachers. The literature suggests that: (1) relatively few teachers routinely use computer-based technologies for instructional purposes (Hunt & Bohlin, 1995); (2) when computers are used, they are generally used for low-level tasks such as drills and word processing (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995b); and (3) computers are not sufficiently integrated across the K-12 curriculum (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995b).
The most common reasons given for the low level of computer use in schools are limited access to equipment and lack of training (Bosch & Cardinale, 1993). A number of studies and reports reveal that both new and veteran teachers feel inadequately prepared to use computers in their classroom (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1987; Bosch & Cardinale, 1993; Topp et al., 1995). In a survey of recent graduates, the Office of Technology Assessment (1995b) found that while more than half reported being prepared to utilize drill and practice, tutorials, games, word processing, and publishing applications; less than 10% felt competent to use multimedia and presentation packages, electronic network collaboration capabilities, or problem-solving applications.
Improving the performance of SCDEs in preparing technologically proficient teachers will require expanding technology use among teacher educators. Topp et al. (1995) and Baron and Goldman (1995) identify several obstacles to infusing technology into teacher education programs. They include: (1) limited availability of equipment; (2) lack of faculty training; (3) no clear expectation that faculty will incorporate technology in academic activities; (4) lack of funds; (5) lack of time to develop facility in using equipment and software; (6) doubt about the pedagogical validity of using some of the newer technologies since the appearance of literature about these tools is relatively recent; (7) lack of technical support; (8) lack of appropriate materials, particularly integrated media materials suitable for teacher education instruction; and (9) absence of clear programmatic goals for the teacher education program as a whole.
An additional obstacle is disagreement among teacher educators about the best approach to preparing teachers who are proficient in computer-based instructional technologies. One source of contention is whether computer literacy courses, which expose preservice teachers to K-12 computer applications and teach them how to use basic computer tools, should be phased out. Instead of discrete computer literacy courses, computer instruction would be integrated into existing methods and foundations courses (Weibe, 1995). A related concern is the need to infuse technology, in a coordinated fashion, across the college curriculum, into the liberal arts content areas where students acquire their subject-area skills and knowledge, as well as the education specialities (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995a).
One example from the first category are the new unit standards (effective fall 1995) developed by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), will affect the 475 SCDEs accredited by NCATE. These standards reflect recommendations from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and include guidelines that address content and pedagogical studies for initial teacher preparation, faculty qualifications, resources for teaching and scholarship, and facilities for operating the SCDE (Thomas, 1994).
Examples from the second category can be found in the recent Office of Technology Assessment (1995a) report, Teachers & Technology: Making the Connection. The report highlights four SCDEs where technology support has become an integral part of a revised teacher education program. These model programs are characterized by: (1) a required course for preservice teachers, which teaches them how to use instructional technologies; (2) exposure to technology-rich K-12 classrooms; (3) supportive SCDE leadership; (4) collegial support for change; and (5) close interaction between the SCDE and local schools.
Additional examples can be found in the national study on Technology and Education Reform. This study, sponsored by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, shows how instructional technologies such as microcomputers, video, multimedia systems, and networks can support and advance school reform efforts and the associated reform of teacher education (Means, 1994).
Baron, L. C., & Goldman, E. S. (1994). Integrating technology with teacher preparation. In B. Means (Ed.), Technology and education reform (pp. 81-110). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Bosch, K. A., & Cardinale, L. (1993). Preservice teachers' perceptions of computer use during a field experience. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 10(1), 23-27. EJ 492 121.
Bracey, G. W. (1993). Research: Exemplary computer use. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(3), 270-273.
Campoy, R. (1992). The role of technology in the school reform movement. Educational Technology, 32(8), 17-22. EJ 450 458.
Hunt, N. P., & Bohlin, R. M. (1995). Events and practices that promote positive attitudes and emotions in computing courses. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 11(3), 21-23. SP 524 325.
Means, B. (Ed.). (1994). Technology and education reform. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Office of Technology Assessment. U.S. Congress. (1995a). Teachers & technology: Making the connection. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Office of Technology Assessment. U.S. Congress. (1995b). Teachers & technology: Making the connection. OTA report summary. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Ramirez, R., & Bell, R. (1994). Recent legislative initiatives expected to affect educational technology. In NCREL policy briefs, Report 3 (pp. 26-31). Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. ED 374 786.
Sheingold, K. (1991). Restructuring for learning with technology. Phi Delta Kappan, 73(1), 17-27. EJ 431 203.
Thomas, L. (1994). NCATE releases new unit accreditation guidelines: Standards for technology are included. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 11(3), 5-7. SP 523 918.
Thornburg, D. D. (1992). Learning alternatives: Technology in support of lifelong education. In Council of Chief State School Officers, Learning technologies essential for educational change (pp 3-28). Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. ED 349 967.
Topp, N. W., Mortensen, R., & Grandgenett, N. (1995). Building a technology--using faculty to facilitate technology-using teachers. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 11(3), 11-14. SP 524 325.
Walters, J. T. (1992, June). Technology in the curriculum: The inclusion solution. Paper presented at the National Forum of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education, Louisville, KY. ED 350 281.
Widmer, C. C., & Amburgey, V. (1994). Meeting technology guidelines for teacher preparation. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 10(2), 12-16. SP 523 575.
Weibe, J. (1995). The need to teach people about computers. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 11(3), 2-3.
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract number RR93002015. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or the Department.
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