Technology Integration: A Case of Professional Development

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to investigate if a professional development session, teachers' learning styles, or an individual's personal appraisal of problem-solving abilities can be indicator(s) of how technology will be integrated into instructional practices. The results though limited to this study seemed to indicate some possible relationships in three major areas: (a) the level of confidence a teacher has when problem solving and the method by which a teacher may approach or avoid a problem may be indicators as to the level of technology integration for that teacher; (b) the level of a teacher's perceived control may be the limiting factor as to whether a teacher may move beyond the integration level in the technology integration hierarchy; and (c) there may be a relationship between a teacher's learning style and PSI score and how a teacher designs technology-based instructional activities.

In the beginning, the information age must have seemed like a Stone Age. Computers were little more than an afterthought just two decades ago. Today, however, everything is changing so rapidly that not only has technology made life easier for the teacher but it has also complicated it. While the mention of technology immediately brings to the mind the use of some type of computer or equipment, it does not necessarily include instructional design. Society has placed demands on teachers to integrate these new information technologies into their curricula based on the needs of an ever-growing job market in technological fields. Research has repeatedly pointed to the need for technology to be integrated in the schools. Society's growing need for highly skilled workers in entry-level technology positions has been tempered by the inadequate and ill-prepared work force (Cetron & Gayle, 1990). Public schools are now being called upon to educate their students for the new technical work force that awaits them after g raduation (Kerns, 1988; Sculley, 1989).

Integrating Technology

In the past, the failure of new technologies being integrated in education has been blamed on the teacher's inability to adapt the new technology to his or her teaching style (Cuban, 1986). Research has suggested that there is a tendency for teachers to stay with instructional strategies with which they are familiar and comfortable and are the accepted status quo at their schools (Tobin & Dawson, 1992). In the survey by Galloway (1997), it was found that most teachers who committed to using technology in their instruction were also committed to using technology in their personal lives. To be able to effectively integrate technology with instruction, teachers need to be able to integrate technology with their personal lives as well.

There have been some that have questioned how much technology knowledge is needed for teachers to begin integrating it into their curricula. In research done on two models of teacher training programs on using technology, Barnard pointed out that neither program challenged the teachers to think about what was required to integrate technology (Barnard, 1997). In a study done with 25 education students, the Chronicles of Teaching software was integrated into the elementary education program (Nelson & Smith, 1995). It was found that the level of integration of this technology depended on whether it was seen as an integral part of instruction and not just another addendum.

For technology to be effectively used and integrated into instruction, Rieber and Welliver (1989) suggested a hierarchy or an evolutionary process through which teachers move. This process consists of five steps: (a) familiarization; (b) utilization; (c) integration; (d) reorientation; and (e) evolution.

In the first stage, familiarization, teachers are just becoming aware of some of the uses of various software (Rieber & Welliver, 1989). It is at this stage that teachers are easily impressed with the capabilities of word processors and other readily available software. …