Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

The Pedagogical TICKIT: Web Conferencing to Promote Communication and Support during Teacher Professional Development

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

The Pedagogical TICKIT: Web Conferencing to Promote Communication and Support during Teacher Professional Development

Article excerpt

This article discusses the online activities used in the Teacher Institute for Curriculum Knowledge about the Integration of Technology (TICKIT) during 1998-1999. TICKIT is a school-based professional development program involving 25-30, K-12 teachers from five or six rural Indiana schools each year. In this particular year, web-based asynchronous conferencing was used by 25 TICKIT teachers from five schools to post technology integration progress reports, "critical friend" feedback about these reports, reactions to debate topics, and reading reactions. The article choices, debates, and critical friend pairs were predetermined. Online debates fostered more words per post than both critical friend and reading reactions. The discussions were analyzed for their focus (content, ontask, offtask) as well as references to peers, one's classroom, and the TICKIT program. Posts were also analyzed for the degree of depth and degree of support for one's claims. Online instructor mentoring or type of learning assistance was also evaluated. Critical friend posts were more social and included more peer referencing and support, while the online debates and reading reactions tended to focus participants around particular content. Critical friend tasks reminded participants of task requirements and related technology integration to teaching experiences. TICKIT teachers were more favorable to the critical friend activities than online debates and reading reactions.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

Schools continue to invest heavily in technology for classrooms. It is assumed that access to technology can improve teaching and learning. Despite sharply increased availability of computers, software, local networking, and Internet access, however, many teachers report little or no use of this growing potential. As the Teachers & Technology report pointed out, "Helping teachers use technology effectively may be the most important step to assuring that current and future investments in technology are realized" (U.S. Congress, 1995, p. 2). Another government report pointed out that teachers need much skill to use technology in their teaching, but "...most teachers are left largely on their own as they struggle to integrate technology into their curricula" (President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology: Panel on Educational Technology, 1997, p. 47).

Clearly there is a need for professional development related to teacher technology integration. According to Stein, Smith, and Silver (1999), the professional development of teachers must begin to focus on long-term development of teachers as individuals as well as the development of self-sustaining learning communities within schools. General issues that must be addressed by such training and development include: (a) teachers' lack of knowledge and skill; (b) isolation from networks of technology-using teachers; (c) lack of models of curriculum integration; (d) limited time; and (e) lack of structured expectations and corresponding support mechanisms. When faced with decisions about whether or not and how to use technology in their teaching, teachers should have access to well-grounded educational ideas and practices, the means to discuss these with others, and models to follow in translating them into classroom reality.

In response, the Teacher Institute for Curriculum Knowledge about the Integration of Technology (TICKIT) was developed at Indiana University as a yearlong, school-based professional development program. TICKIT annually involves 25-30 teachers from five or six rural K-12 schools in southern Indiana. TICKIT teachers develop and teach curriculum units involving the use of technology during each of two semesters with support from university personnel and peers. To address these issues and needs TICKIT creates teams of university and public school personnel to merge resources and interests. As a result, teachers use technology to build more authentic and instructionally engaging learning environments (Bonk, Hay, & Fischer, 1996). …

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