Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Re-Creating Graduate Teacher Education Classrooms: Multiple Technology Formats and Collaborating Instructors

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Re-Creating Graduate Teacher Education Classrooms: Multiple Technology Formats and Collaborating Instructors

Article excerpt

This article describes a teaching experiment investigating the impact of using multiple teaching strategies and innovating while teaching collaboratively. The objective of this study was to examine the use of collaboration in trying a combination of face-to-face meetings, web courseware, and interactive two-way video in a graduate course. The major finding from interview data, surveys, courseware records, and instructor journals was the value of combining technology is synergistic if a sense of community is established and if instructors understand and capitalize on the strengths of each technology. The secondary finding was the power of collaborative teaching as a means of professional development for both instructors.

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    Teachers learn just as their students do: by studying, doing, and
    reflecting; by collaborating with other teachers; by looking closely
    at students and their work; and by sharing what they see. This kind
    of learning cannot occur solely in college classrooms divorced from
    engagement in practice or solely in school classrooms divorced from
    knowledge about how to interpret practice.
    Linda Darling-Hammond

Darling-Hammond (1997) emphasized the potential importance of graduate education if it models good practice and is engaged with teachers' daily practice. It then follows that graduate teacher education should model innovative teaching practices and innovative uses of new technologies. Distance learning technologies have the power to increase opportunities for communication and sharing among teachers, as well as to bridge the divide between graduate teacher education and the PreKindergarten-12 classroom. This article shares the results of our collaborative effort to combine distance-learning technologies (web-based courseware and interactive two-way video) with the traditional face-to-face format in a graduate course on teaching, learning, and curriculum for practicing teachers. More specifically, we intended to design and deliver a multi-format course that provided opportunities for the type of teacher learning Darling-Hammond described.

Distance education is growing rapidly internationally and nationally (McIsaac & Gunawardena, 1996). Universities encourage the use of distance learning technologies for several reasons: to improve student learning, to provide additional access to education (McIsaac & Gunawardena), to accommodate needs of nontraditional learners (McCormack & Jones, 1998), to thrive in an increasingly competitive academic marketplace (Jones & Pritchard, 1999), to scale courses up in numbers or geography, to broaden their range of course offerings, to make efficient courses with lower enrollment, and to show that the institution is on the cutting edge of technology use. Some universities have emphasized the use of technologies, especially the Web, to the extent that critics have said they are "engaged in a frenzied drive to the web-based cliff" (Harmon & Jones, 1999b). Instructional technologists warn against giddy excitement about the promise of new technologies, such as Reeves' (1998) comment that "the World Wide Web does not guarantee learning any more than the presence of a library on campus guarantees learning" (p. 3).

Because of the rapidly changing nature of technologies such as the Internet, research too often must follow, rather than lead, development and instructional use. For that reason universities are facing learning to use new instructional media that do not yet have a substantial research and theory foundation (Hopper, 2000). Firdyiwek (1999) noted that course design and delivery may be driven more by technology than by pedagogy or research. Technology might include web courseware, interactive two-way video, the use of internet sites, and more task-specific technology (e.g, scientific calculators).

Both web courseware and interactive two-way video may be classified as distance or distributed learning. …

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