Giving Future Teachers a Boost: In Embracing Tomorrow's Educators, Media Specialists Have the Potential to Influence Their Use of Technology, Model Collaboration, and Be Advocates for Our Media/ Technology Programs. These Future Teachers Will Soon Be Our Teaching Partners. (the Media Center)(Cover Story)

Article excerpt

More rigorous standards in teacher education programs are leading to a higher caliber of student entering the education field. But are tomorrow's teachers prepared to use technology effectively in their teaching? I'm fortunate to work with many future teachers each school year. Some are field-experience students, who are required to spend 40 to 60 hours in a classroom; others are student teachers from two local universities and occasionally from out of state. I'm also privileged to teach "Integrating Technology in the Curriculum," an undergraduate university methods class that focuses on elementary and middle-level practices and possibilities.

Promoting Integration

The integration-class students enroll to fulfill a technology requirement and demonstration of their technological and instructional abilities. They know their knowledge, skills, and ability to apply technology to the curriculum are inadequate for future employment. In initial self-assessments, they describe themselves as proficient with word processing, e-mail, basic Internet searching, and PowerPoint. They have acquired these skills in high school, as users of the laptops the university requires all students to have, and to a limited extent, in other methods classes. Their self-assessments agree with a study by Market Data Retrieval that concludes "The average first- or second-year teacher doesn't have much of an edge over educators who have taught for more than a decade--at least when it comes to how they assess their own high-tech readiness" [Woodall, Martha, "New Teachers Not Necessarily More Adept with Technology, Survey Finds." Detroit Free Press, July 15, 1999,].

The students I teach have not had the extensive, transforming experiences with technology that one might expect of the digital generation. They admittedly know little or nothing about how to apply the technology to develop technology-rich and meaningful lessons for screen-happy kids. The integration course is structured around Minnesota Higher Education standards for teacher preparation programs developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education), as well as the national standards developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) [http://coe.winona.].

Core components are:

* Basic Computer/Technology Operations and Concepts

* Personal and Professional Use of Technology

* Application of Technology in Instruction

Readers will recognize the standards as similar to those developed by ISTE for K-12 students and teachers. Detailed information about the standards is on the ISTE Web site [].

My goals are for the students are as follows:

* Increase understanding of the possibilities.

* Learn how to align technology with curriculum as they develop integrated activities.

* Acquire confidence and transferable skills they can apply to evolving changing technologies and educational situations.

Like the 6th grade students I meet each fall, each semester's university students enter the class better skilled than their predecessors. Since it is no longer necessary to teach the basics, we really can focus on integration. Students who perceive themselves as Internet-savvy tend to change their perception when they begin to learn about complex issues encompassing wise use of the Internet and meeting curricular objectives. They are surprised to learn there are search engines for children, interested in issues related to filtering and inappropriate use of the Internet, and eager to find quality Web sites. Last semester's discussion on technology ethics and copyright proved lively and was a tremendous eye-opener. One noted, "I never knew how many times I had broken the law."

Many projects the university students complete are identical to those completed by elementary or middle school students. …