Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Computer Competencies of the Faculty Members of the College of Education at the United Arab Emirates University

Academic journal article International Journal of Instructional Media

Computer Competencies of the Faculty Members of the College of Education at the United Arab Emirates University

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Technology integration is the main element being focused on in schools (Collins, 1991; David, 1991; Ely, 1996; Sheingold & Hadley, 1990). The integration of technology in the classroom is very helpful for students learning (Collins, 1991; David, 1991; Sheingold & Hadley, 1990) and helps make learning more interactive (Madian, 1991). The main questions are how to integrate technology in teaching (Houghton, 1997) and how to help teachers change their way of using computers to integrate technology into their curriculum.

As concluded by Duhaney (2000), the introduction and use of information technology changed the traditional classroom activities and changed the way that teachers and students interact with each other. This helped enhancing the learning environment and provide enrichment in the learning process (Duhaney, 2000). But the use of technology can only be appropriate if it enhances the learning process. Therefore the curriculum should derive the use of technology not the other way around (Duhaney, 2000; D'Ignazio, 1989).

With the use of technology, the role of the teacher changes such that he/she is no longer the center of the classroom who passes information and knowledge to students. Students learn through critical thinking, inquiry, and problem solving from information accessed from a variety of sources (Houghton, 1997). The main concern is that students should be able to know how to access information, evaluate its sources and then use it (Scheffler & Logan, 1999). If students are expected to do that then teachers should be trained to help them do it. Teachers should be trained to use and integrate technology into their classrooms during their studies at the university and they should learn how to do that from their teachers. This is why faculty members should be competent in using and integrating technology into their classrooms.

Wtzel (1993) reported that preservice teachers do not feel that they are prepared to integrate and use technology in their curriculum when working as inservice teachers. Grabe and Grabe (1998) reported that fifty percent of teacher-education graduates who were surveyed answered that they felt unprepared or poorly prepared to use technology in the classroom. This raises the question on what should be done to help those teachers gain the proper technology competencies needed to integrate technology properly and successfully into their classroom.

Computer use increases as training and computer experience increase (Loyd & Gressard, 1984; Turner, 1989; Scheffler & Logan, 1999). Preservice teachers need not only knowledge about computer technologies, but also hands-on experiences with these technologies and their applications in teaching and learning specific subject matters. This means that education courses should model technology integration. All of this should be derived from a rich, constructivist vision of technology infusion (Faison, 1994).

Once the teacher is well prepared and able to use the different technologies involved to interact with students and integrate technology into his/her teaching, the role of the teacher is changed and he/she becomes more of a facilitator and an organizer of students' work and of the resources available for students. And he/she no longer becomes the center of the classroom where he/she is responsible about doing everything. This gives the student more responsibility for what he/she is learning (Lane, 1994).

Many studies have indicated that the reason for the lack of the use of computer technology by teachers is their lack of training (Beaver, 1992; Brooks & Kopp, 1990; Ingram 1992); Vagle & Collece 1995; Yaghi, 1997; Yildirim & Kiraz, 1999). Research have shown that teachers are more hesitant and less likely to use computer technology than other people in other professionals (Paprzycki & Vidakovic, 1994).

There must be a clear understanding by both faculty members and the institutions of what the faculty obligations are. …

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