Academic journal article Education

Use of Computers by Secondary Teachers: A Report from a University Service Area

Academic journal article Education

Use of Computers by Secondary Teachers: A Report from a University Service Area

Article excerpt

Introduction and Theoretical Framework

Over the past ten years the United States has spent more than $19 billion on developing information technology infrastructure in local school districts and classrooms. As a result of those efforts, the number of schools connected to the Internet has exceeded 90% and the ratio of students to computers in most schools has dropped to a new low of 5:1 compared to a ratio of 26:1 of ten years ago (Slowenski, 2001). While the ratio of computers to students may have declined throughout that ten year period, the question of concern may be where are the computers located and what is the age and configuration of them? If you are going to involve students in technology where they are going to be "active learners" a 5:1 ratio is not sufficient. The purchase of hardware and software for the classroom is usually at the low end and the "platforms" will not allow the use of "quality" software. Whereas a majority of teachers now incorporate technology to perform administrative functions and classroom 'housekeeping', only 33% of K-12 teachers report that teacher training programs provided them with the training needed and that they feel inadequately prepared to integrate high quality digital content into their instruction (Lemke, C., 1999; DOE, 2000). What are the teachers expecting when they state that they are not adequately prepared to integrate high quality digital content? A survey (Guha, 2000) lists seven barriers to integration: teachers are overwhelmed by number of educational software titles and websites, of those titles are websites small percentage are of high quality, state and districts do not provide lists of titles that match curriculum, no provision by state and district to preview software, small number of computers available in classroom, cost of educational software, and lack of time to prepare and tryout software and websites.

The realization that only through a more fully integrated approach of electronic and digital learning experiences will the public schools of our nation promote the needed student achievement and develop the essential technological skills of our high school graduates that will enable them to better function in adulthood. What are these skills and where should they be taught to be "real world?" Educators must make necessary adjustments to the delivery of curricula to ensure that our classrooms exemplify digital learning environments. What is this environment? Where is it in "life?" It is strongly believed that a more comprehensive and integrated approach of electronic learning is essential if we are dedicated to inspiring students to become lifelong learners (Hendricks & Bryant, 2000). What is a more comprehensive and integrated approach to electronic learning both in preparing teachers and the teachers teaching? We must understand where we are now before we can move in finding the answers to these questions.

Methods and Techniques

The primary objective of this study was to describe how full time secondary in-service teachers, who are located in the regional university's College of Education service area, are incorporating the use of computer technology in their classrooms. More specifically, the research questions that were being addressed include 1) How are teachers using computers in their classrooms? 2) How much time do teachers use computers for their classroom and instructional purposes? And, 3) how much time do teachers allow students for computer use? Also, survey and interview responses may help the certification program better understand the computer skill development needs of in-service teachers who are veterans of the classroom as well as new teachers entering the classrooms.

Full time certified secondary teachers who were employed in the university's College of Education service area volunteered to respond to a survey and follow-up interview questions regarding the use of computers in their classrooms. …

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