Lit Review


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Lit Review

  1. 1. A Nonequivalent Equation:<br /> The Amount of Available Technology Compared to <br />The Amount of Technology Being Utilized in Today’s Public Schools<br />Jessica Hollon<br />University of Wyoming<br />Abstract<br />The difference between the amount of technology that is readily available to public schools and public schools’ amount of use of this technology is shockingly different. With new technologies being produced daily, it is daunting for schools to keep up and best prepare teachers, both existing and pre-service, to survive in the technology integrated classroom. Through the review of published articles, it is evident that pre-service teacher education, professional development within schools, and a shift within teacher’s personal pedagogical beliefs to a more constructivist approach will need to be better addressed within school settings to aid in bridging the gap between available technology and its utilization in public school settings. <br />Twenty years ago had you walked into the typical elementary public school system classroom; you would have observed quality teaching and learning happening before your eyes. However, most if not all of that learning would have been done in the absence of many technological tools the public schools of today have at their disposal. In contrast, if you were to walk into a typical public elementary school classroom at the present time, you would most likely find a teacher computer, student computers, and possibly an array of other technological tools. In the current world of education, students and teachers alike have access to computers, the internet, digital cameras, speaker systems, interactive whiteboards, and many other tools on a daily basis even if they are not utilizing them regularly. <br /> In the 1990’s the rapid growth in the types of available technological tools, paired with the decline in the price of these resources, captivated schools and parents alike, who wanted to prepare their children for a society where learning and employment were increasingly dependent on digital access and expertise. Computers, the internet, and software became increasingly available to more and more students. The task for schools became that of determining how technology and curriculum would operate to strengthen student learning (Staples, Pugach, & Himes 2005). As these questions were brought up, it gave way to even more unknowns. Such as the fact that teachers, administrators, and researchers alike were coupling their excitement concerning the possibilities and potential power of technology with the underlying question of whether technology was truly needed or beneficial (Staples et. al.). With all of these questions coming to light, Fullan (1992) claims that educators’ visions of the potential for educational change with new educational technologies underestimates how difficult it is for teachers to implement the changes that will be required in their practices and skills, as well as in their educational beliefs. <br />This review will not only look at literature on the new knowledge and change in pedagogical beliefs teachers must gain in order to keep up with the ever changing technological trends, but also the hurdles they must face in doing so. It will also explore how pre-service teacher education has been affected in order to prepare future teachers for the technological integrated classroom and if these changes have proven to be effective. <br />Since the turn of the 20th century, educators have used various types of technology aids to help them teach and improve their students’ learning (Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 2001). As technology advances at an ever increasing speed, the adoption of new technology in schools lags behind. This means that, although for several decades information communication technologies (ICT) have strongly affected all aspects of society and culture (Sproull & Kiesler, 1991), the educational system has largely remained unchanged in the last ten to twenty years (Abrami, 2001; Albion, 2003; Mann, 2000). One reason for this gap between the technology that is available and it’s utilization within schools may be that despite studies documenting the effectiveness of technology to support student learning many barriers to technology integration have been identified. <br />For example, the issue of preparedness of teachers to respond to the influx of technology resources and of schools to keep up with the mechanical functioning and maintenance of equipment was one major barrier. Further, many teachers have not been prepared to utilize technology in their teacher preparation programs. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (1995) found that schools devoted no more than 15% of their technology budgets to professional development (Staples et. al.). So although instructional technology has been a routine part of the educational landscape for several decades, the integration of technology in classrooms still lags behind expectations for its use (Cuban, 2001) because for teachers to use technology appropriately they need to have support and be encouraged to take risks (Morehead & LaBeau, 2005).<br />Such a low percent of schools’ budgets being allocated to technology professional development is shocking when one looks at the research on this aspect of the issue. According to Shane and Wojnowski, (2005) the facilitators of Project TIES (a successful technology integration program in central North Carolina schools), professional development allows teachers the time to assimilate new pedagogies and implement them into their classrooms. Veen (1993), for example, found that teachers are more likely to adopt new technology if they can use it in accordance with their existing beliefs and practices. Furthermore, research suggests that teachers with student-centered pedagogical beliefs, who adopt student-oriented constructivist teaching, are successful at integrating technology except in classes where anxiety about computers prevented them from appropriating the technology. In contrast, teachers with more traditional beliefs are likely to face much greater change in their practices in order to integrate technology (Honey & Muller, 1990). <br />The literature seems to suggest that, in order to bridge the gap between available technology and its use in classrooms, teachers’ knowledge of and comfort with technology need to be addressed. While this change is not easy, for pedagogical change to occur teachers must be afforded the opportunity to learn new teaching methodologies, incorporate those methodologies into their classroom practices, modify any practices that do not work for them, and retest the modification (Shane & Wojnowski, 2005). <br />With all of the professional development that seems to be needed for teachers who are now in the midst of their careers, it is only fitting to wonder what types of modifications, if any, have been made to teacher education programs to accommodate the new skill set pre-service teachers will need in their first years of teaching in order to take charge of a technology integrated classroom. <br />Clausen (2007) wrote that many new teachers have been prepared in teacher education programs that have adopted recommendations to increase teacher education students’ exposure and use of technology. Increased exposure to technology by beginning teachers is part of an ongoing effect to improve teachers’ instructional technology use. Preparing Tomorrows Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) grant projects, which are a development of National Technology Standards (NETS), along with other initiatives that focus on improving teacher quality, have reshaped teacher education programs so that new teachers have been ostensibly prepared to begin their careers able to integrate technology effectively into their instructional practice.<br />While new programs have been set in motion in many teacher education programs, research still shows that it is difficult for these first year teachers to effectively use technology. Similar to research concerning existing teachers, new teachers are beginning their careers with improved technology skills and use for their own professional practice, but they continue to express difficulty incorporating technology into their curriculum (Becker, 2001; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2000; Russell, Bebell, O’Dwyer, & O’Connor, 2003). Possibly this is because beginning teachers often consider instructional technology use as an additional element to their regular instructional practice and that they still have to take extra steps in order to accommodate technology use with their students (Clausen, 2007). <br />This suggests that while the classroom shift away from an emphasis on textbooks and teachers to the integration of technology and teachers in the role of facilitators is not merely one of adopting new tools, but in fact a transformation in pedagogy and epistemology (Bruenjas, 2002), and while teacher education programs are emphasizing technological skills, it may not be enough for teachers of the future to feel comfortable about using technology in their classrooms on a daily basis. <br />Research has shown that merely placing computers in classrooms does not guarantee use (Morehead &LaBeau, 2005) and that more professional development is needed in schools to address the lacking skills and proficiency of existing educators’ use of technology. However, if pre-service teachers who have had experience with these technologies are still not comfortable using them, is there another factor at work that is limiting technology use? While in any give school there could be a multitude of other factors weighing in on this issue, Becker and Ravitz, (2001) believe teachers who hold a traditional teaching philosophy and believe their role is to transmit an extremely rigid curriculum through highly controlled pedagogy are the teachers who may avoid technology. In contrast, teachers who believe in constructivist learning principles tend to use technology more frequently. This connection between the use of technology and constructivist pedagogy implies that constructivist-minded teachers maintain dynamic student-centered classrooms where technology is a powerful tool (Levin & Wadmany, 2006).<br />This information would suggest that teachers’ professional development concerning technology and technology enhanced pre-service teacher education in and of itself is not enough to encourage teachers to implement technology into their classrooms. It seems that as technology continues to evolve, not only do teachers need more and more information about how to use technology, for some they also need to have a pedagogical shift. Levin and Wadmany (2006) point out that it is harder for most teachers to conceive of learning as knowledge transformation, rather than knowledge accumulation, and to regard technology as a dialogical tool that empowers both students, teachers, and the learning process, instead of as a technical instrument that supports practice and enhances students’ and teachers’ thinking.<br />In the October 1, 1998 issue of Education Week, Jeff Archer reported on research conducted by Harold Wenglinsky, an associate research scientist at Educational Testing Service. According to Wenglinsky, the positive benefits of technology’s effectiveness depends on how it is used. “One of the positive benefits of technology’s effectiveness depends on how teachers and students relate to each other.” Archer concurs, saying, “…a growing number of education technology advocates argue that constructivist approaches toward learning- in which students work in rich environments of information and experience, often in groups, and build their own understandings- tap into the computer’s greatest strengths.” Archer further quotes William Fiske, educational technology specialist at Rhode Island’s Department of Education, “kids learn by doing, by presenting, by displaying, by engaging. Learning happens best when the youngsters are doing the heavy lifting” (as cited in Shane and Wojnowski, 2005).<br />It seems that, in order for technology to be used to its fullest; teachers both existing and pre-service need to be knowledgeable and comfortable with its use. The reshaping of pre-service teacher education is certainly a step in the right direction with the help of programs such as PT3. However, it may not be enough to close the gap between technology that is available and the amount of technology that is actually in use within schools.<br /> Since technology also seems to be more effectively used by educators who have a constructivist approach, educators who are willing to shift their pedagogical beliefs in order to accommodate technology in their classrooms will most likely see more benefits from the use of technology. In addition to this, school districts and administrations who wish for educators to utilize technology to best benefit students need to make professional development available so that as technology changes teachers’ practices can evolve concurrently. When these needs are met, technology may find a position in the forefront of classrooms where it has not previously been.<br />Abrami, P.C. (2001). Understanding and promoting using complex learning using technology. Educational Research and Evaluation, 7, 133-136.<br />Becker, H.J. (2001). How are teachers using computers in instruction (electronic version), Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Seattle, WA.<br />Becker, H.J., & Ravitz, J.L. (1999). The influence of computer and internet use on teachers’ pedagogical practices and perception. Journal of Research on Computing in Education. 31(4), 356-384<br />Bruenjas, L.S. (2002).A multi-case study investigating the disposition of faculty use of technology as a teaching and learning tool in the higher education classroom. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Lowell.<br />Clausen, Jon M. (2007). Beginning teachers' technology use: First-year teacher development and the institutional context's affect on new teachers' instructional technology use with students. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(3), 245-261.<br />Cuban, L., (2001). Why are most teachers infrequent and restrained users of computers in their classrooms? In J. Woodard & L. Cuban (Eds.), Technology, curriculum, and professional development (pp. 121-137). Thousands Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.<br />Debevec, K., Shih, M., & Kashyap, V (2006). Learning strategies and performance in a technology integrated classroom. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 293-307.<br />Fullan, M. (1992). Successful school improvement, Open University Press, Buckingham, Philadelphia <br />Heinich, R., Molenda, M., Russell, J., & Smaldino, S. (2001). Instructional media and technologies for learning. Journal of Marketing Education, (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. <br />Honey, M., & Moeller, B. (1990). Teachers’ beliefs and technology integration: Different values, different understanding. New York: Center for Technology in Education.<br />Levin, T., & Wadmany, R. (2006). Teachers' beliefs and practices in technology-based classrooms: A developmental view. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(2), 157-181.<br />Morehead, P., & LaBeau, B. (2005). Successful curriculum mapping: Fostering smooth technology integration. Learning and Leading with Technology, 32(4), 12-17.<br />Russell, M., Bebell, D., O’Dwyer, L., & O’Connor, K. (2003). Examining teacher technology use: Implications for preservice and inservice teacher preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(4), 297-310.<br />Shane, P. M., & Wojnowski, B. S. (2005). Technology integration enhancing science: Things take time. Science Educator, 14(1), 49-55.<br />Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1991). Connections: New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.<br />Staples, A, Pugach, M.C., & Himes, D. (2005). Rethinking the technology integration challenge: Cases from three urban elementary schools. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 37(3), 285-311.<br />Veen, W. (1993). The role of beliefs in the use of information technology: implications for teacher education, or teaching the right thing at the right time. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 2(2), 139-153.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />