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Elementary In-Service Teacher's Use of Computers in the Elementary Classroom

Article excerpt

Continued advancements in technology have fundamentally changed the way we work and live. Today's educators have unlimited opportunities to more broadly apply our powerful technological tools and change the way students of all ages are learning. Yet, there continues to remain a consensus among business leaders, parents and educators that our current educational practices do not prepare students to thrive to our ever-changing technological society. The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the use of computers in the classroom by elementary teachers and their students. Data was collected university pre-service teachers who were currently enrolled in a required education technology course. The results indicate that the responding elementary teachers reported only limited use of computers in their classrooms. The computer use that was employed by the teachers was primarily for desk organization with very little if any classroom instruction being addressed by computer technology.

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Elementary, my dear Watson, Elementary! Unfortunately, this famous saying, attributed to Sherlock Holmes, does not reflect the use of technology by teachers in elementary level classrooms or by elementary pre-service teachers during their training. Frank (1990) follows Sherlock's dictum when he wrote that teachers tend to teach in the same way that they, themselves, were taught. This observation holds true today. The way our students in elementary level classrooms are being taught in the year 2003, has not changed significantly from 1990. Teachers are not yet integrating technology into the elementary school curriculum.

In 1998, Halpin stated that the effective use of technology in the K-12 classroom has become the "focal emphasis" of schools. Yet a study by Jones in 2000 found no such "focal emphasis" in his sample of elementary schools. He found that student computer use during the teaching/learning process was only 3% on a daily basis, 29% used technology weekly, 38-45% reported using technology once during a two month period, and 20% did not use technology at all.

Gibson and Hart (1997) reported the concerns of three elementary teachers involved in a computer technology project. They cited computer materials that did not closely match the required curriculum. They also cited lack of preparation and training, and inconsistent levels of success achieved by students and teachers as reasons not to use technology. However, Guha (2000) suggested elementary teachers want to be competent in the use of computers and see them as valuable in enhancing student learning but class load and time management were barriers to implementing computer-assisted instruction in the classroom.

Quinn (1998) asked 28 pre-service elementary and 19 pre-service mathematics students to do a pre and post writing assignment on "What are your current beliefs concerning the use of technological aids in the teaching of mathematics?" Most pre-service respondents held favorable views regarding technology, but more than 75% had reservations about the use of technology in the mathematics classroom. Post writing produced no change from the writers opinion. In interviews, the pre-service teachers indicated they had received little exposure to technological aids during their own elementary and secondary mathematics education. Quinn's pre-service teachers had concerns that time was insufficient to teach concepts, available materials were lacking, and classroom management issues would impede their incorporation of technology into teaching mathematics.

Brennan (1991) stated that comprehensive training and staff development increase integrating computer aided instruction (CAI) and student exposure to CAI in the classroom. Maeers, Browne, & Cooper (1999) described a program that provided a mandatory set of specific skills and concepts provided at different stages of the pre-service elementary program at the University of Regina(Saskatchewan). …