New Functions for "Old Macs": Providing Immediate Feedback for Student Teachers through Technology

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Feedback to student teachers concerning strengths and weaknesses is a must for a successful student teaching experience. Weekly visits from college supervisors and weekly seminars do not provide enough opportunities for communication between the student teacher and college supervisor. Providing student teachers with "old Macs" from the college or university may be the answer for providing a means of using E-mail and receiving immediate feedback. Student teachers and college supervisors could link up daily for productive dialogues, thus creating a successful and productive student teaching experience.

For years, the student teaching experience has been the capstone experience for the majority of education programs throughout the United States. This experience usually runs anywhere from a quarter to one year in length. In addition to carrying out the responsibilities and schedules of the cooperating teachers, student teachers usually attend a weekly seminar on the college campus. This seminar and weekly visits from college supervisors provide feedback for addressing accomplishments and areas of weakness to the student teachers.

Student teachers have expressed feedback as an essential ingredient in creating a successful student teaching experience. As early as 1987, one study (Nabors & Richard, 1987) found that student teachers believed feedback was a crucial factor in their growth in teaching expertise. These student teachers welcomed feedback from the cooperating teacher and college supervisor. Students looked forward to their weekly seminars and college supervisors visits, so a dialogue concerning their progress and well as any questions they had could be addressed.

TECHNOLOGY CAN PROVIDE THE MEANS FOR IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK

With feedback playing such an important role in student teaching success, once a week seminars and weekly visits do not necessarily need to be the only times to receive input from the college supervisor. Computers could provide the means for immediate feedback. Some colleges and universities, such as Harvard University, the University of Kansas and the University of Virginia, are currently using E-mail to communicate with their student teachers (O'Neill, 1997), thus providing immediate feedback and providing a direct means of communication.

PROVIDING/FINDING THE COMPUTERS

To implement a meaningful system for immediate feedback the ideal situation would be for the college or university to gather all its old computers (namely Macintoshes) that are sitting around in numerous professors' offices and send each student teacher out to his/her school placement with a computer and modem in hand. Although most schools have computers, not all classrooms have computers. Utilizing "old Macs" and giving them the new function as a communication device between the student teacher and the college supervisor can be beneficial in many ways.

BENEFITS OF USING "OLD MACS"

   1. Old computers would be out of professors' offices, no longer taking up
   space and collecting dust.

   2. Student teachers could ask for immediate feedback from college
   supervisors by possibly setting up designated times on a daily basis
   (before or after school, during a lunch period). …