Infusion of Technology into the Curriculum

Article excerpt

The subjects in this study were 10 preservice students who completed their student teaching in fall, 2001, in the Central Washington Region, and 10 veteran teachers enrolled in the Master's Program at one of the teacher training centers in Washington State. This study sought to determine whether preservice teachers and veteran teachers in the master teacher program hold similar or different perceptions regarding teacher use of technology in their areas of assignment. Based on the findings, we concluded that there is still a lack of infusion of technology into the curriculum. The results of the veteran teachers in the master teacher program showed very little use of technology in the subject areas. The results suggest that school districts may not be providing adequate staff development experiences to prepare veteran teachers to use technology in their classrooms.

In February of 1996, President Clinton issued a challenge to schools and educational leaders to prepare "technologically literate" students by the 21st century. Recognizing the importance of the Internet in the future of education, the Clinton Government mandated that all classrooms should be connected to the Internet by the year 2000, and all teachers must be trained to integrate this technology into the curriculum (US Department of Education, 1996). Considering the speed at which school change usually occurs, four years is an amazingly short time to complete such a massive undertaking. The year 2000 has arrived, and we have not yet completed the task. Incredibly, however, the first part of Clinton's challenge is all but accomplished. According to surveys conducted by the Center for Research on Information Technology, approximately 50% of schools had some kind of access to the Internet in 1996. By 1999 this number had grown to more than 90% (Becker, 1999).

It can be assumed that this number has continued to grow over the recent months and that we are now very close to the 100% goal. Equity issues, which once plagued the technology arena, seem to be diminishing (at least regarding Internet access). Anderson and Reinvest (1999) find no significant difference in access levels for schools serving minority or low socioeconomic communities as compared to schools serving more affluent communities: this finding differs sharply from similar surveys conducted three years earlier.

Simply having access to technology/ Internet, however, does not ensure its best use. This becomes evident when close scrutiny is given to the way in which the Internet is applied. Becker (1999) discovered that only 26% of elementary teachers involved their students in Internet based activities. 92% of these activities involved downloading research information. Only 8% involved more interactive applications, such as email, web publishing, simulations, and problem-solving. According to Doherty (1998), many expensive Internet connections lie dormant in schools, except for brief periods when they function only as a very convenient encyclopedia.

Low use of the technology reflects the failure to meet the second part of Clinton's mandate that teachers be prepared to integrate technology into their curriculum. Hubbard (1998) and Sunal et al. (1998) cite a lack of proper training and follow-up support as the most frequent reasons teachers give for not using the Internet in their classrooms. According to Hubbard, most teachers who use the Internet in innovative and creative ways have trained themselves through a process of experimentation born out of personal interest. Harris (1998) tells us that while such innovators may naturally seek out creative avenues for using the Internet, the majority of teachers, and especially the "technophobes," need specific training and ongoing support to integrate the technology effectively. School districts have spent billions of dollars putting the infrastructure in place to allow for Internet access, with little left in their budgets to pay for staff training (Sherry, 1997). …