Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Been There, Done That: Reaching Teachers through Distance Education [*]

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Been There, Done That: Reaching Teachers through Distance Education [*]

Article excerpt

Technology has become ubiquitous everywhere, except in schools. Although many schools are now acquiring the technology, not enough money is being set aside for professional development of teachers in the use of technology. Consequently, teachers do not feel adequately prepared to integrate technology into their daily practice. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of the World Wide Web (Web) and e-mail as a viable option for the professional development of K12 educators. Two classes were investigated: one delivered using the Web and another one in a face-to-face environment. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in this investigation. The researchers concluded that distance learning is not an education of inferior quality to those university courses taught on campus, and that classes delivered on the Web provide a viable option for professional development of K-12 teachers.

TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY

The latter part of the 20th century has been marked by technology changes that are increasingly affecting every aspect of human life: surgical operations that take place while the surgeon is a thousand miles apart from the patient, immediate voice and image transmission from one side of the world to the other, and instantaneous dissemination of news. In a few words, we have left the industrial age behind and are now in the midst of the information/communication age. Niederhauser (1996) defines the information society as "one in which the quality of life, as well as the prospects for social change and economic development, depend increasingly on information and its exploitation" (p. 416). The source of power in the information/communication age is knowledge (Drucker, 1994; Toffler, 1990). Drucker (1994), who coined the term "knowledge society," states that in such a society more knowledge, and especially advanced knowledge, will be acquired well past the age of formal schooling through processes that do not c enter on the traditional school. Moursund (1999) also discusses that traditional schooling worked fine when technological and societal changes were not as fast as in the times we live now. In this new century, educated people will not be judged only for what they have learned, but for what they can do to contribute to the common good. They will be required to constantly organize and use information to create new knowledge (McClintock, & Taipale, 1994). In these terms, citizens of this millennium must become, out of necessity, a society of lifelong learners.

Internationally, the United States plays a key role in scientific advancements. Yet, for this country to remain competitive in the 21st century, a workforce that is highly skilled, especially in the use of technology, will be critical (U. S. Department of Labor Secretary's Commission on the Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) Report, 1991). It is increasingly clear that those who do not learn to think and work with technology today will be disadvantaged tomorrow. Despite the need for preparing technology-competent graduates, four in 10 teachers still report that their students do not use technology at all in a typical week, and three in 10 state that their students use technology only one hour per week (Trotter, 1999). Then, it seems fair to say that many schools continue preparing citizens to function in an industrial age, rather than in a technology-rich information age.

On the other hand, in fairness to the federal and school districts' efforts, it is necessary to mention that technology is steadily finding its way into the American classroom. Jerald and Orlofsky (1999) reported that 49% of instructional computers in the public and private schools in the U.S. are Power Macs or PCs with Pentium processors, and that the number of students per multimedia computer dropped from 21.2 in 1997 to 9.8 in 1999. However, the newest technology will not be a replacement for a skilled teacher, and the benefits that new technologies can bring to the students will increasingly depend on the teacher's ability to use these new tools (Trotter, 1999). …

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