Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

The Role of Teacher Knowledge and Learning Experiences in Forming Technology-Integrated Pedagogy

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

The Role of Teacher Knowledge and Learning Experiences in Forming Technology-Integrated Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Using a multiple-case embedded research design (Yin, 1994), this study examined the nature of teachers' learning during technology professional development activities and the extent to which their subsequent technology-supported pedagogy was innovative. Four English language arts teachers, who ranged in teaching and technology experience, served as contrasting case studies. Results suggested that the power to develop innovative technology-supported pedagogy lies in the teacher's interpretation of the newly learned technology's value for supporting instruction and learning in the classroom; learning experiences grounded in content-based, technology examples were most effective toward this end. Furthermore, teachers with less professional knowledge (e.g., preservice or novice) and/or less intrinsic interest in identifying uses for technology may need guided or collaborative, content-specific technology learning opportunities, while teachers with more professional knowledge (e.g., veteran) may be able to develop innovative technology-supported pedagogy by bringing their own learning goals to bear in professional development activities. Collaborative, subject-specific technology inquiry groups are proposed as professional development that supports all teachers' learning to integrate technology into their subject areas.

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We are at a decisive juncture in terms of technology use in elementary, middle and high school education. There is educational promise in the accumulating technological resources that are increasingly available to teachers and school children that contribute to innovative practice and learning across subject areas (e.g., Chen & Armstrong, 2002; Duhaney, 2000). Simultaneously, technology is being used in ways that replicate traditional instructional strategies and learning (Cuban, 1993, 2001). Given the community support for technology use in the classroom (Starkweather, 2002), it is unlikely, even with Cuban's depictions of uninspired technology use in schools, that technology resources will be extracted from schools. Thus, while education is poised for innovation that will allow students to engage in learning with technology in ways they, their teachers, and their parents have never experienced, we still need to reflect on how to make those practices a reality in classrooms today.

Indeed, increasing the effectiveness of technology-supported content area teaching has been a national goal (Riley, Holleman, & Roberts, 2000). Yet, only one-third of public school teachers feel "well prepared" or "very well prepared" to integrate the use of computers into their teaching (NCES, 2000), and professional preparation for practicing teachers to integrate technology resources in support of subject area learning has been scant (Milken Exchange on Educational Technology, 2000). An essential question concerning this issue lies in how some teachers learn to infuse technology innovatively into subject area instruction and learning while other teachers adopt technologies in ways that do not significantly change student learning or instruction. Thus, we need to better understand how to best support and promote technology integration among subject-matter teachers in both informal and formal learning contexts. The current study builds upon relevant literature on teacher learning and the factors that may enhance the likelihood that teachers will use technology innovatively to support subject matter learning.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Teacher Learning

There are many teachers for whom the use of technologies for educational purposes is unfamiliar and, in some cases, a daunting prospect. Technology integration requires practicing teachers to assume a learning stance. From a constructivist perspective, "teacher-learners" engage in learning that is a "constructive and iterative process in which the person interprets events on the basis of existing knowledge, beliefs, and dispositions" (Borko & Putnam, 1996). …

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