A Strategy for Technology Training as Part of a Master's Program Conducted at a School Site

Article excerpt

This case study evaluates a field-based strategy for training inservice elementary teachers to use technology. The strategy, which was incorporated into the Long Beach Professional Development School for Educators (LBPDSE), involved a technology course taken by a cohort of students in an onsite M.A. program in Curriculum and Instruction. Participating teachers identified topics of interest and, in teams, taught one another both computer and technology integration skills. Data were collected including beginning-of-course and end-of-course professional development plans and self-assessments, plus postcourse focus group meetings. Prior to the course, teachers' predominant uses of computers were largely peripheral to their subject matter instruction, and their beginning-of-course self-assessments of their technological skills were mostly at introductory proficiency levels. By the end of the course (a) teachers began applying many of the introduced technology integration skills to their teaching, (b) most teachers' technology self-assessments reached intermediate to advanced proficiency levels, (c) the most frequently mentioned means for further professional development in technology was learning from fellow teachers, (d) over one-half of the teachers reported increased confidence or comfort with computers, and (e) about one-third of the teachers reported a substantial shift in their stance towards computers.

**********

As noted by a report of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), information technologies are having a profound impact on society, and a growing research base supports the potential of technology as a resource for contributing to students' learning. Even so, most teacher training programs have considerable work to do in the area of preparing teachers to teach with technology (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, 1997). Valuable preparatory skills in using technology can be provided through university-based courses, including technology courses and methods courses with embedded technology components. However, such university-based approaches do not afford the contextual realism of field-based approaches. Thus, there has been increased advocacy for improving linkages between teacher preparation programs and K-12 schools as a way of fostering the direct ties to practice that such approaches make possible (Milken Exchange on Educational Technology, 1999; National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, 1997). One promising approach is to include technology training in the activities of professional development schools, which are a form of teacher training based in K-12 schools involving a partnership with a university college of education.

This article reports on a project aimed at integrating technology into a professional development school in the greater Los Angeles area, the Long Beach Professional Development School for Educators (LBPDSE). The professional development school in turn is a project of the nationally recognized Long Beach Education Partnership, which includes California State University, Long Beach, regional community colleges, and the Long Beach Unified School District. The technology training took the form of a course that was part of an onsite Master's degree program in Curriculum and Instruction. This article describes the design of the course as well as its role in the LBPDSE. It describes findings from data that were collected in an effort to assess this course. The article describes this particular case with the hope of contributing to national discussions about models for field-based training of teachers in technology.

BACKGROUND

Prior projects incorporating field-based approaches to technology training have targeted both inservice and preservice teachers, but projects for preservice teachers have been more prevalent. Whereas some of these projects for preservice teachers have taken the form of professional development schools, little if any work has been reported using the model discussed in this article that is based in a professional development school for inservice teachers. …