Teacher Education and the World Wide Web

Article excerpt

This article examines changes in Teacher Education Programs that can evolve out of the presence of the World Wide Web (Web) and Internet. As the Web becomes more available to universities, precollege schools, and the general public, the role of education needs to be examined. Major paradigm shifts are discussed. The author discusses a program implemented in the Elementary Education Program at Florida State University. Finally, discussion is provided about the changes observed with these students.

Since 1994 the author has been engrossed with the Web. The more she investigated it, the more she became convinced that this provides a major shift in our society that holds much potential for education. President Clinton set an agenda of having access to the Web in every class in the country by the year 2000. Many of our local schools do now have access to the Web in their classes today. Are teachers and schools ready to make use of the new capabilities it brings? Do teacher education students understand the implications of what such a dynamic force can have on the future of education?

Note: This article was initially written several years ago. Since that time all of the ideas discussed have become an integral part of our teacher education program, and it is working well with our students.

We have made some significant changes in our Elementary Education Program. The following background areas helped lead to such changes: a view of the Web and its potential, major paradigm shifts in education, changes in schools, and changes in teacher education. Discussion of each of these follows.

A Web View of the World

Through the years we have watched many advances in communications systems (see Manuscripts, Books, and Maps, 1994). Many of us were struck when we watched the video information sent to us from the Gulf war a few years ago. Today information about earthquakes, bombings, trials, and election results can be disseminated world wide almost instantly. The point is: communication capabilities are changing very quickly.

The Web provides a forum for such instant communication. A document can be posted at one location in the world and retrieved almost instantly in another part of the world. With CU-See Me (people with video cameras in two locations and connected through computers) capabilities, it is almost like having each person with his or her own broadcast station. Text, pictures, graphics, and even animations can be transmitted nearly instantly from one location to another.

Maintaining a Web site is somewhat like publishing a paper, a book, a video, or links to other sites. Such sites can also support many forms of interaction. Having near instant access, independent of time, location, age, social, or economic (with some limitations) status, to a world of Web sites is what constitutes the Web. Such sites are using common code that can be translated by a Web browser. Never before have we had such capabilities through direct access. It is only a matter of time until the Web will be processing real time action, video, audio, and online dialogues, and in some cases these already exist.

Major Paradigm Shifts in Education

Such changes in technology along with other changes in school improvement involve a number of paradigm shifts that hold the potential of providing major changes in our entire educational system. Such shifts can affect the teaching/learning process, the evaluation process, the learning environment, and skills and curriculum for the 21st Century.

Appendix A shows contrasting models for the teaching/learning/assessing process. This model has been discussed at several conferences (e.g., Flake, 1994; Flake & Molina, 1995). Model A is basically a traditional model that has dominated our classrooms for years. Model B is more of a constructivist model, in the spirit of von Glasersfeld (1983), Papert (1993, 1996), and Harel (1990, 1991), that allows for students to more meaningfully construct their own knowledge. …