Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Learning Generation: Fostering Innovation with Tomorrow's Teachers and Technology

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Learning Generation: Fostering Innovation with Tomorrow's Teachers and Technology

Article excerpt

We discuss the context, conception, implementation, and research used to refine and evaluate a systemic model for fostering technology integration in teacher education. The Learning Generation model identifies conditions where innovations for using technology emerge in small group dialogues. The model uses a multifaceted implementation with programmatic reform, enhanced infrastructure, technology enriched field placement, ongoing technical support, robust web communications, and Innovation Cohorts. Ideal cohorts include teacher education and liberal arts faculty, preservice student(s), practicing teachers and K-12 students. Cohort development evolves through seven stages: (1) genesis, (2) consultation, (3) planning, (4) initiation, (5) action, (6) assessment, and (7) celebration. Cohort topics include: Technology Integration, Legislative Tracking, Making Hope Happen, Technology in Science Teaching, Foreign Language, and Choral Music.

Phase one of the research involved a survey and interviews on uses of technology. Survey results with student and faculty found significant differences between six subscales: word processing (M=3.84), basic computer skills (M=3.61), online activities (M=3.49), software use (M=2.99), presentations (M=2.84), spreadsheets / database (M=2.77); F (5, 244) = 173.11, p < .001. The lower scores on presentation and spreadsheets/database software are worth noting because these uses are often the most successful in supporting inquiry and constructive learning activities. Survey results also found that the confidence of women was lower than men in basic computer skills (p=.004) and use of presentation software (p=.002). In the interviews, several faculty members (36%) specifically mention the importance of modeling the use of technology in their instruction. Further research is needed to investigate the relationship between faculty modeling of technology use on teacher education students across gender.

An audit of the cohorts' products and faculty interviews indicate that the Learning Generation goals were achieved. Faculty report that their technology skills improved and they embraced the collaborative grass-roots nature of cohorts. Learning Generation is a flexible model that can be adapted to the unique needs, culture and capacities of diverse teacher education institutions.

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In this article we discuss a systemic model to support innovations with technology in teacher education. We classify a model as systemic if it possesses these qualities: (a) the motivation and innovation originate from the students and faculty in the program; (b) the model fosters multiple solutions that address diverse needs and situations; (c) the impact of the model is pervasive; and (d) The model encourages ongoing innovation. Educational systems have long been criticized for ignoring the value of experience and choosing instead to, in John Dewey's (1915) terms, "teach by pouring in." Rather than prescribing a one size fits all workshop approach to technology integration, this systemic model draws upon the unique skills and experiences of all participants and adapts as educational needs and information technologies continue to change.

We named this systemic model Learning Generation. It features Innovation Cohorts where teacher education students, university faculty, and K-12 teachers work together in a group to discover solutions for integrating technology that serves their unique teaching and learning needs. Typically, the solutions are but one step in each group's ongoing effort to reflect, disseminate, and sustain their cohort's innovations. We will begin by discussing the national and local context that led to the conception of the model. We then describe the model with examples of the cohorts' activities, implementation, and the research that was used to refine the model and to assess attainment of the goals.

The National Context: Rapid Change in Technology and Teacher Education

The development of Learning Generation was supported in part through the U. …

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