Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Transforming Learning with Technology: Lessons from the Field

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Transforming Learning with Technology: Lessons from the Field

Article excerpt

Professional organizations in many subject areas have emphasized changing the way subject matter is taught by actively involving students in critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and exploration. One way to accomplish this is with the use of technology and constructivism, although many barriers to technology integration exist. This article follows a classroom teacher through five years of working to integrate technology, and in turn, constructivism into his classroom. This teacher was successful in helping his students gain new skills or enhance existing skills in technology, critical thinking, collaboration, presentation, and self-learning. The teacher's changes in instructional practices, his reflections on these changes, how he overcame common barriers to integrate the technology, and the benefits to himself and his students are discussed.

Standards for professional organizations in many subject areas have emphasized actively engaging students in critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving (National Council for the Social Studies, 1994; National Council of Teachers of English, 1996; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1993; NRC, 1996). Social studies reform efforts have stressed changing the manner in which social studies has been taught and learned (National Council for the Social Studies, 1994) to include role-playing, simulations, and other activities to involve students in critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. The Standards for the English Language Arts (National Council of Teachers of English, 1996) urge English language arts teachers to promote classroom communities where students are engaged in an "active process of language use and learning" (p. 13). The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1993) provide guidelines that focus on e xploration, problem solving, connections, reasoning, and communication.

Researchers believe that technology has the potential for transforming traditional, teacher-centered classrooms into student-centered, collaborative classrooms (Peck & Dorricott, 1994; Tierney, 1996; White 1996, 1999) that would offer students those opportunities, and for encouraging the use of constructivist principles. The transformation of a classroom, though, can be a difficult process. It involves a need to overcome a variety of barriers. When attempting to integrate technology, teachers typically encounter barriers such as a lack of or inadequate training and staff development in using the technology, knowledge of how to integrate technology into the curriculum, teacher pedagogical beliefs, access to equipment, time to learn technologies, and administrative support (Faison, 1996; Langone, Wissick, Langone, & Ross, 1998; Siegel, 1995; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995).

According to Faison (1996), many practicing and preservice teachers report inadequacies in the types of computer technology programs offered in teacher preparation programs. "They report that they have had no systematic exposure to or integration of technology in their teacher education program" (Faison, 1996, p. 57). Many higher education institutions have provided a single technology course to aid preservice teachers in gaining technical competence (Hargrave & Hsu, 2000; Hess, 1990), but many of these courses teach technology as an isolated subject and do not provide training in how to use technology in specific disciplines or how to integrate it into the curriculum (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995; Novak & Berger, 1991). Jerald and Orlofsky (1999), noted as few as 20% of teachers reported that they felt prepared to integrate technology into the curriculum.

Faison (1996) maintained that some of the causes for inadequate preparation of preservice teachers were a lack of funding for support and a lack of up-to-date computers in teacher education programs. …

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