Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Technorealism: The Rhetoric and Reality of Technology in Teacher Education

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Technorealism: The Rhetoric and Reality of Technology in Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Technology integration in teacher education is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Technorealism is desperately needed in teacher education programs to help ameliorate the mad rush to computer technology integration for its own sake. Technorealism offers a balanced and "rational" approach to the latest technologies and the resulting changes in thoughts as well as actions. The technorealism approach in teacher education suggests the integration of technology that can facilitate "powerful" approaches to teaching and learning including meaningful, creative, challenging, inquiry-based, and active applications. The article suggests the integration of seven principles of technorealism in teacher education.

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Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important -- Bill Gates

Technological innovations and changes are occurring at a dizzying rate today and people are either embracing these changes and cheerleading the rapidly advancing technologies, or are in a near state of panic predicting some high-tech doom. Historically, almost any time great upheavals occur, there is a good deal of anxiety produced in the society as traditional roles and values are in flux. Much of our contemporary societal angst can be linked to the rapidly changing technologies, particularly regarding computer technology.

Nothing inspires as much hope (information superhighway and the interconnectedness of the global village) and as much fear (Y2K and technoterrorism) as computer technology. The rhetoric of hope belongs to technophiles, while technophobes own that of fear. Technophiles generally have an uncritical view of technology. They suggest that technology can be the answer to current (and future) questions, and often advocate a head-long, eyes-closed, plunge into all high-tech endeavors. Technophobes on the other hand, have an overly-critical view of technology. They often believe that technology is inherently dangerous and that we should avoid plugging-in all the important institutions in our society. Such dyadic thinking is not productive, in fact, such extremism in either direction is generally counter-productive.

Contemporary technological advances must be viewed and analyzed beyond this simplistic either/or dichotomy. The issues surrounding the uses of technology are far more complex. Just as we now understand that a glass of water can exist at any one time as both half-empty and half-full, technology simultaneously exists as an agent of both hope and of fear. Therefore, it is necessary to construct a more practical and central theory that reconciles the bivalent nature of technology, rather than apply the two theories that reflect a dichotomous approach. The bivalence theory regarding technology is technorealism. Technorealism offers a more balanced and "rational" approach to the latest technologies and the resulting changes in thoughts as well as actions. This middle-of-the-road approach is needed to avoid the extremities of technophilia and technophobia. It is this middle-ground that technorealism seeks to define, employ, and expand.

SEEKING THE MIDDLE GROUND IN TEACHER EDUCATION

It is probably bordering on sedition to use the word middle in connection with contemporary teacher education programs. With teachers, pedagogy, and schooling under relentless scrutiny from a variety of sources (parents, political officials, and others), superlatives like higher, bigger, better, and faster seem much more desirable expressions among teacher educators. However, this is problematic because it privileges an extreme. It indicates that the only possible alternative has to be diametrically opposite, and this is not always the case. Again, the bivalent nature of all issues makes it necessary to explore a middle-ground.

In teacher education programs all over the United States, a line in the sand is being drawn by the philes and phobes over technology. …

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