Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

An Exploration of Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Learning to Teach While Using Asynchronous Discussion Board

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

An Exploration of Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Learning to Teach While Using Asynchronous Discussion Board

Article excerpt

Introduction

The material and social affordances of new technologies of communication are transforming different aspects of people's lives, including the ways they think, work, learn, and communicate (Jewitt, 2005; Gura & Percy, 2005). Obviously, university students' lives--their intellectual and everyday social activities are increasingly dependent on, expanded and supported by new communications technologies. Thus, the shifting social and technological landscape in the 21st century suggests that policymakers, faculty, and administrators should develop systematic plans to harness the potential of technology-mediated instruction to support and improve how pre-service teachers are prepared to teach the different school curricula. The Academic Senate of the California State University (2003) defines technology-mediated instruction as "all forms of instruction that are enhanced by or utilize electronic and/or computer-based technology. It specifically includes distance education, instructional modules delivered via mass media, and computer assisted instruction" (AS-2321-96).

The assumption that educational technologies have the potential to revolutionize how pre-service teachers are trained to teach is an important one. For example, Johnson (2006) and Simpson (2006) observe that asynchronous discussion board (ADB) is collaborative and interactive and thus opens new opportunities for pre-service teachers to learn how to teach in innovative ways. The increasing availability of new technologies of teaching and learning seems to suggest that teachers' preparation to teach this millennial generation may be fundamentally different from previous approaches. For one, the material affordances of new technologies of communications challenge the conventional conception of pedagogical practices, social space, social practices, and schedules (Brewer & Klein, 2006). For example, instruction in different subject areas may no longer be restricted to face-to-face meetings within classrooms or the few hours officially allotted for instruction in university schedules.

However, despite the promise of technology as "powerful pedagogical tools" (National Research Council, 1999, p. 218), many faculty members keep to the face-to-face, instructor-dominated, and knowledge transmitted approach to teaching (Bryant, 2006; Alghazo, 2006). Bryant (2006), Otero, Peressini, Meymaris, Ford, Garvin, Harlow, Reidel, Waite and Mears (2005) and Rogers (2000) observe that many faculty members are reluctant to adopt new technologies as a curricula tool and improved pedagogy because of the doubt that it will improve student learning. Gura and Percy (2005) argue that those who run schools have little understanding of "what is possible with the technology and how to make it happen" (p. iv). Indeed, the National Research Council (1999) pleads with school administrators and instructors for a better understanding and appreciation of technology as a significant tool of instruction:

   What has not yet been fully understood is that computer-based
   technologies can be powerful pedagogical tools--not just rich
   sources of information, but also extensions of human capabilities
   and contexts for social interactions supporting learning (p. 218).

This quotation suggests a need to integrate technology as a tool for preparing pre-service teachers. Johnson (2007) and Doering and Beach (2002) contend that technology helps students to construct knowledge. More importantly, Johnson (2007) argues that understanding pre-service teachers' perceptions of their own learning while using technology will help researchers and teacher educators to gain insights into the connection they make between the theory of using technology for learning to teach and what they actually do in real-life situations. In this regard, Molebash (2004) blames teacher education for "the existing gap between how teachers are expected to use technology and how they are actually using it" (p. …

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