Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Creating Social Relationships: The Role of Technology in Preservice Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Creating Social Relationships: The Role of Technology in Preservice Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

Starting in the late 1970s and gaining strength throughout the 1980s and 1990s, scholars and policy makers have trumpeted the benefits that technology would bring to the practice of teaching and learning. While by and large this remained a promise unfulfilled, recent research suggests that today's computing and networking technologies are beginning to penetrate educational venues (Becker, 1999, 2000, 2001; Gibson & Oberg, 2004; Ronnkvist, Dexter, & Anderson, 2000; Russell, Bebell, O'Dwyer, & O'Connor, 2003). As a result, now is an important time to revisit the potential of technology for education. In this article, we focus specifically on the implications of technology for teacher preparation and the institutions that engage in it. Our main concern is to identify and explore how a more pervasive technological infrastructure might serve as a catalyst for schools of education to reconsider how teacher preparation is done.

The term technology is broad and can encompass many tools and applications. In this article, when we refer to technologies we mean to encompass the standard suite of desktop productivity tools including word processors, presentation managers, and spreadsheets. We also include what is emerging as the standard suite of networking tools: e-mail, Web browsers, synchronous and asynchronous (1) text-based conferencing, and synchronous video and audio conferencing. In addition to these, we explore the utility of tools that find extensive analytic use in various domains of practice, for example, simulation, modeling, and visualization tools in science and text analysis tools in literature. Finally, we believe it is important to add to this list technological tools that aid in reflection. A key member of this category is video tools that allow teachers and others to consider and analyze their personal practice and the practice of others.

In what follows, we begin by describing two approaches to the use of technology that have been popular in the past several decades. We then discuss a more recent perspective, one that we believe is critical for enhancing teacher education. Specifically, our emphasis is on the social and interpersonal affordances of technology for teacher learning. To conclude, we review four implications for teacher education that we claim take advantage of the social ways of knowing offered by technology today.

THINKING ABOUT THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY: THREE PATHWAYS

In this section, we argue, as have others, that technology today offers a way to connect learners, teachers, and others to the social fabric of communities of practice (e.g., Albon, & Trinidad, 2002; Gardner & Williamson, 2002; Putnam & Borko, 2000). To situate this perspective effectively, we will first characterize two other approaches that have typically been used to integrate technology into teacher education: the first being technology acquisition, and the second consisting of instrumental use of technology. These two pathways along with the third approach of using technology to support new social practices are a strategic suite. Together they create a frame to recast our thinking about technology and teacher preparation.

Technology Acquisition

It almost goes without saying that before technology can have a role in organizational change, it has to be acquired. There must be a technical infrastructure that is rich and reliable enough for people to come to depend on it for their regular work. While it is a necessary developmental step, the acquisition of a technical infrastructure is not an end in itself.

Teacher preparation institutions and other organizations have thought about helping learners through technology by infusing the organization with technology (Means, Olson, & Singh, 1995; Office of Technology Assessment, 1995). It appears that at times, the goal of organizations in the past has been to purchase lots of technology and hope through its presence that learners will organically come to use it and, through this use, work differently. …

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