www.nationalforum.com - Dr. Lorie Webb and Dr. James Jurica - NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief
NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALVOLUME 30, NUMBER 3, 201358TECHNOLOGY & NEW TEACHERS:WHAT DO SCHOOL DISTRICTS EXPECTFROM THEIR NEW HIRES?Lorrie Webb,Ph.D.James Jurica, Ph.D.Texas A&M University-San AntonioABSTRACTThis article is an exploratory examination of data collected from 96 schooldistricts regarding the technology skills that future teachers should be taught inpublic schools. Several suggestions are made by study respondents regardingthe changing needs of technology skills expected of new teachers withimplications for instruction in university educator preparation programs.Future analysis of data from this preliminary study could be useful for futurepolicy recommendations for school administrators in terms of hiringexpectations and considerations for evaluating and hiring prospective teachersfor public school classrooms.IntroductionToday‟s educators are pressured to meet the needs of thestudents they serve (Williams, Foulger, & Wetzel, 2009). TheConsortium for School Networking (2004) discovered that the internetwas rarely implemented effectively in classrooms, even though 99percent of elementary and secondary schools have access to theresource. Universities are struggling to prepare future educators withthe skills needed today, as well as for future technologies. Onechallenge is in determining the specific skills these educators will need(Albee, 2003). “As future students enter their college programs withmore previous exposure to technology, the specific skill development
WEBB&JURICA59needed during their college tenure may look increasingly different(Collier, Weinburgh, & Rivera, 2004). Donovan and Green (2009)stated that technology will eventually become as integral as classroommanagement in teacher education programs. In order to attain thisgoal, research is needed on the expectations that school districts haveon teacher graduates. This study attempted to discover theseexpectations in one metropolis area.Literature ReviewTwo primary areas of research related to this research project:characteristics of “digital native” students and preparing teachers toaddress these characteristics in their future students. The term “digitalnative” has been coined to represent those who have grown up in thedigital age – not having experienced a world without digital media(Prensky, 2001). According to Small andVorgan (2008), thesestudents‟ brains were conditioned differently due to the frequent use ofdigital media such as email, video games, VOIP, and texting. Studentswere no longer passive viewers but active participants. They weremotivated by the desire to be busy and stay connected throughmultitasking (Sprenger, 2009).Tapscott (2009) found that the average 8 to 18 year old spendsapproximately 6 hours a day connected to some digital communicationdevice – sometimes several simultaneously. Lewin (2010) discoveredthat an average young American spent at least three hours a day on amobile device: one half of an hour talking, two hours consumingmedia, and one hour receiving and sending over 500 texts. They wereable to interact with 11 hours of media in only seven and a half hoursdue to multitasking. Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) characterizeddigital natives as highly social and quick reactors who cravedimmediacy and expected the same from others. They are “morevisually literate than previous generations… able to weave togetherimages, text, and sound in a natural way” (Oblinger&Oblinger, 2005,p. 2.5). These students also preferred team-based learning in order tostay connected with others.
60NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALToday‟s students are “in danger of experiencing their educationas irrelevant to their wired lives” (Kitsis, 2010, p. 50). Current teacherpreparation programs need to be able to address the needs of thesedigital natives, who will eventually be students in their classrooms.Technology has normally been addressed in one of two ways inteacher education programs: a single course or two devoted to teachingwith technology or an integration approach weaving technologythroughout methods courses. Both approaches have their problems. Nosingle technology course effectively addresses all issues (Brown&Warschauer, 2006); yet, integration programs do not seem to modeltechnology within methods courses adequately (Adamy&Boulmetis,2006). Since the digital native students in the future classrooms couldvery well know more about the technologies available, a shift inteacher education programs is beginning to occur. Instead ofcontinuing to teach about new technologies, programs should prepareteachers to learn about new technologies on their own and toimplement them in meaningful ways (Williams, Foulger, & Wetzel,2009). However, in order to feel confident in learning newtechnologies, preservice teachers need foundational technology skills.Several studies attempted to determine technology skills of preserviceteachers, as well as specific skills needed.In Northwestern Pennsylvania, education majors completed asurvey based on perceptions of their computer skills (Fleming,Motamedi, & May, 2007). The study determined that the preserviceteachers perceived their computer skills as less than average in 14areas. Ninety-six percent of the students surveyed owned their owncomputer and used it at least three to five hours each week, yet feltinadequately prepared to use technology (Fleming, Motamedi, & May,2007). Benson, Farnsworth, Bahr, Lewis, and Shaha (2004) assessedpreservice teachers‟ technology skills during their first year in theteacher education program, followed by mid-program and post-program surveys, and an exit interview. The results of the initialsurvey showed knowledge and skills to be minimal with theexceptions of word processing and the Internet. After taking therequired technology course, the students‟ skill levels showedstatistically significant increases in all areas. The post-program survey
WEBB&JURICA61showed a slight decrease in technology proficiency levels, however.The exit interview resulted in some positive outcomes. According tothe preservice teachers the two most important aspects gained includedknowledge of software programs and preparedness to use technologyin their future classrooms (Benson et al., 2004). The studydemonstrated how coursework can positively impact students‟technology skills. “However, without continual reinforcement of theuse of technology, skill level will not be maintained” (Benson et al.,2004, p. 659).Schaffhauser (2009) addressed the Technological, Pedagogical,Content, Knowledge (TPACK) instruction in teacher preparation atIowa State. Teacher candidates were allowed to check out equipmentsuch as iPods, computers, digital cameras, etc. in lots of 10 to useduring their field work in the schools. This alleviated the inequityissue of technologies they were taught to integrate in their courseworkand the actual equipment available to them in their field work. Mouzaand Wong (2009) hypothesized that case development could helpteachers develop TPACK. They conducted a four-stage studyinvolving students enrolled in a specific course. During stage one,teachers identified a pedagogical problem. In stage two, theydeveloped a technology plan to address the problem. Then the teachersenacted the technology plan in field-based classroom assignments andrecorded the activities. Finally, the teachers wrote an educative caseduring stage four. Mouza and Wong collected data from written cases,online discussions, and in-depth interviews. The authors proved theirhypothesis; an increased growth in the teachers‟ TPACK occurred, andteachers engaged in effective reflective practice (Mouza& Wong,2009).“Numerous courses in teacher education are not preparingpreservice teachers to use technology because specific technology skillneeds have not been identified, and there is a lack of technologyintegration modeled by professors in teacher education courses”(Albee, 2003, p. 54). Albee (2003) attempted to find solutions to thisproblem in a triangulated study. An analysis of administrators‟expectations of new teachers, preservice teachers‟ perceptions ofpreparedness, and coursework technology requirements was evaluated.
62NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALThe results confirmed the need for increased technology skillpreparedness. Students conveyed a high level of discrepancy betweenexpectations of technology use while student teaching and self-assessed proficiency levels. Results from surveys regardingtechnology requirements in program courses revealed a lack ofconsistency (Albee, 2003). The expectations of district administratorscan assist teacher preparation programs in determining technologyskills that need to be addressed. The study presented here attempted todetermine the needs of districts in one metropolis area.MethodologyThe purpose of this study was to collect data on technologies(both hardware and software) available to and used by teachers inNorth Texas public school districts. Specifically, the study attemptedto answer the following questions:1. What software technologies will be available for use by newteachers?2. What hardware technologies will be available for use by newteachers?3. What do school districts expect from new teachers regardingtechnology integration into their teaching?4. What do school districts expect from new teachers regardingtechnology utilization in their job responsibilities?5. What can universities do to improve their teacher educationprogram in the areas of technology?Participants consisted of technology administrators from 98North Texas districts (from Tarrant County, Dallas County, and allbordering counties). An email was sent requesting input in the form ofan electronic survey concerning current technologies used in eachdistrict. A follow-up email was sent to those who did not respondwithin 2 weeks.
WEBB&JURICA63An electronic survey consisting of quantitative and qualitativequestions was used to gather data. The survey developed by theresearchers included items related to technologies available toelementary and secondary students and teachers, as well as districtdemographics. Qualitative data came from a semi-structuredconversational approach. Qualitative data concerning opinions ofwhat new teachers needed in areas of technology utilization andintegration and opinions on what universities could do to improveteacher education programs in these areas was analyzed for keyword/phrase commonalities. Some secondary data, of districtdemographics, was collected as well. While statistical and qualitativedata are being analyzed for future studies, the findings reported belowprovide some preliminary insights informing the issue of technologyskills expected of 21stCentury teachers.Preliminary FindingsOpen-ended questions developed by the researchers sought toanswer what training and skills are needed by new teachers in the areaof technology and how universities could assist in that endeavor. Thefollowing are representative quotes from participants for each of theopen-ended questions.1. What area(s) of technology do your teachers need moretraining/skills? Integration of technology versus teachingtechnology was a consistent theme.a. “They need to see how to enhance their curriculum andnot add more to the curriculum.”b. “#1 need is to create the understanding that technologyshould be seamless in its instructional use in theclassroom. It should not be separate instruction.”c. “Seamless integration of technology into their dailylessons. They use technology as a personal tool but nota tool with the students to enhance learning and make itmore relative to our 21st century learners.”
64NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALd. “Technology integration into the curriculum, usingtechnology as a SUPPORTING TOOL rather than thefocus in a lesson.”2. How can universities better prepare new teachers forintegrating technology? Answers centered on modelingtechnology integration.a. “All university classes need to be modeling technologyintegration. Online, problem-based/project-based androbust technology skills should be demonstrated as wellas expected from the students. Do not teach thetechnology as skill-based, isolated courses. They do notknow how to link to the curriculum unless they havehad practice. Use and understand the Texas EssentialKnowledge and Skills standards. Allow teachers topractice their content by developing their integrationskills.”b. “Deliver instruction to you university students in thesame ideal manner that they will (should) be deliveringcontent to their students. Engaging, collaborative, 24/7access to content and resources should be encouraged.”c. “They need to include technology integration in everycourse as an integral part of the course and not aseparate unit.”d. “By example with hands on use and integration intoprojects, lesson planning, etc.”3. Other comments/suggestions on how universities can improvetheir teacher preparation program pertaining to technology.a. “The focus on 21st Century skills needs to begin withthe university professors and staff. They need to model,model, model. Teachers should not be taking copiousnotes from an overhead or data projector and expect toproduce a different outcome. The need for a tighterlinkage between K-12 and higher education needs tobegin with higher ed. learning, understanding, and
WEBB&JURICA65teaching teachers according to their content and not justa broad stroke of content with technology as an add-on.Allow practitioners to use the technology tocollaborate, monitor, produce, and create learningcommunities with their education plan.”b. “In the last few years, I have seen improvement in newcollege grads with respect to some fundamentalcomputer uses. They seem able to handle the basics oressentials that their job requires - email, wordprocessing, using clip art, Power Point, posting on webpages. I suspect that is just an societal effect from Web2.0 and the enthusiasm that young adults have forFacebook, YouTube, etc. Many still lack thefundamentals that make them technology literate vs.competent. Model, model, model the use of technologyin your own classrooms. Require the use of technologyin everything that your students do. Make sure youhave all the modern tools - data projectors, documentcameras, electronic whiteboards, clickers, etc. If theresa way to fit it into your program somehow, take them toTCEA, area conferences, vendor fairs, etc. You mighteven ask vendors to come into your classes anddemonstrate their products. Give them a look at whatmight be waiting out there for them to utilize in theirown classrooms. You might help them know what tolook for in a school district when they take that firstjob. If theres one thing I wish our existing teacherscould do, it would be to spend time observing teachersand students in a technology infused environment sothey could see the difference that it makes with thestudents.”Conclusions“All teachers should engage students in effective technology
66NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNALlearning experiences that challenge them to think in-depth aboutrelevant technology content and processes in a learning environmentthat is founded in contemporary pedagogical practices” (Ginns,Norton, McRobbie, & Davis, 2007, p. 198). Oblinger andOblinger(2005) have determined four critical questions university faculty andadministrators should ask themselves:Who are the learners?How are they different from the educators?What learning activities are most engaging?Are there ways to use technology to make learning moresuccessful?These questions are just as valid for new teachers in elementary andsecondary settings. More technology is not necessarily the answer;interactive technology, however, engages digital natives‟ quest forexperiential learning.
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