Why Improving Preservice Teacher Educational Technology Preparation Must Go beyond the College's Walls

Article excerpt

Field experiences are identified as an important component in the preparation of new teachers (Griffin, 1986; McIntyre, Byrd, & Foxx, 1996). Much attention has been paid to aspects of the context of the field experiences and how they might influence student teachers as they practice teach. Teacher educators have attended to contextual influences such as cooperating teachers' beliefs, instruction, and feedback (Borko & Mayfield, 1995; Bunting, 1988; Osunde, 1996); university supervisors' levels of feedback (Richardson-Koehler, 1988); whether the site provides an environment that supports students' using what they have learned in university courses (Zeichner & Gore, 1990) or provides students with experiences with key populations--such as multicultural, urban, or special education students (McIntyre et al., 1996); and if field experiences overall reflect key theoretical and conceptual components of the teacher preparation program (Guyton & McIntyre, 1990).

The aspects of the field experience context that relate to educational technology use are a focus as teacher education institutions examine how their programs of preparation provide opportunities for students to work toward the technology competencies inherent in the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium Standards (1992), used by many states as licensing requirements, and in the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (International Society for Technology in Education, 2000), which were adopted by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education as a part of their accreditation requirements. During the past few years, many institutions' work to embed these standards in their programs and address the profession's concern to help new teachers learn to use technology as an effective instructional tool (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, 1999; American Council on Education 1999; National Commission on Teaching a America's Future, 1996; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 1997) occurred as a part of a Preparing Tomorrow Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Although there is consensus in the educational technology field that preservice teachers should use technology during practicum and student teaching experiences and that this does not happen often enough (CEO Forum on Education and Technology, 1999, 2000; Moursand & Bielefeldt, 1999; Office of Technology Assessment, 1995), researchers have identified the many difficulties inherent in providing such field-based practice opportunities. Various schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDEs) have reported efforts to provide equipment to sites to ensure adequate technology access (Stetson & Bagwell, 1999), determine the technology attitudes of the cooperating teacher (Bosch & Cardinale, 1993), or organize technology equipment and services (Picciano, 199 Other research emphasized the impact of quality technical and instructional support on whether technology is used by teachers for their own professional work or by students in their classrooms (Ronnkvist, Dexter, & Anderson 2000).

To determine where we might best focus our efforts to improve the opportunity of our preservice teachers to use technology during student teaching through our Ed-U-Tech project, a PT3 implementation grant that began in 1999 at the University of Minnesota, we conducted a survey of our program's student teachers in the spring of 2001 and 2002. We research the contextual factors mentioned in the literature to determine which were most important in predicting the preservice teachers' own professional uses of technology and their having K-12 students use technology in the classroom. We analyzed these factors in terms of how the things over which SCDEs have direct control (e.g., coursework and expectations to use technology) compare with those over which they have far less control (e. …