Academic journal article Language, Learning & Technology

The Impact of Call Instruction on Classroom Computer Use: A Foundation for Rethinking Technology in Teacher Education

Academic journal article Language, Learning & Technology

The Impact of Call Instruction on Classroom Computer Use: A Foundation for Rethinking Technology in Teacher Education

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This purpose of this study is to examine how language teachers apply practical experiences from computer-assisted language learning (CALL) coursework to their teaching. It also examines ways in which teachers continue their CALL professional development. Participants in the study were 20 English as a second language and foreign language teachers who had, within the last 4 years, completed the same graduate-level CALL course and who are currently teaching. Surveys and follow-up interviews explored how participants learn about CALL activities; how what they learned in the course interacts with their current teaching contexts; the factors that influence whether or not they use technology in their classrooms; and how they continue to acquire and master new ideas in CALL. The findings support previous research on technology teacher education as it suggests that teachers who use CALL activities are often those teachers who had experience with CALL prior to taking the course; that lack of time, support, and resources prohibits the use of CALL activities in some classrooms; and that colleagues are the most common resource of new CALL activity ideas outside of formal coursework. Implications for teacher education are that teachers learn better in situated contexts, and technology courses should be designed accordingly.

INTRODUCTION

While teacher education is in some ways still an "unstudied problem" (Freeman, 1996; National Center for Research on Teacher Education, 1988), there is a large body of literature describing and examining what happens in teacher-education technology courses and programs. The majority of studies on teacher technology education explore the following issues: what teachers are and/or should be learning in technology courses (Hargrave & Hsu, 2000; Johnson, 1999); teacher-education students' knowledge of and attitudes toward technology (Atkins & Vasu, 2000; Milbraith & Kinzie, 2000); and how teachers think about and use computers in the classroom (Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999; Levy, 1997a; Pilus, 1995; Walker, 1994). Much of this research shows that teacher-education technology courses and programs have a limited impact on how teachers think about and implement technologysupported teaching (Cuban, 1996; Feiman-Nemser & Remillard, 1996).

Within this body of literature, however, few studies explore transfer from the practical content of teachereducation technology courses to the classroom. There is also a gap in the literature specific to the relatively new area of computer-assisted language learning (CALL; Lam, 2000). In order to help language teachers learn about and use technology effectively, we need to know more about the transfer of CALL coursework to the classroom. More specifically, we need to ask

* How do teachers learn about CALL-based activities?

* How does what they learned in their coursework impact their current teaching contexts?

* What factors influence whether they use computers in their classrooms?

* How do participants continue to acquire and master new ideas in CALL after formal coursework ends (professional development)?

If we discover that learning about technology integration does not occur as well through coursework as by other kinds of experiences, teacher educators will need to reexamine the opportunities they provide teachers learning about CALL.

This study begins to address this gap in the literature by describing how language teachers use the practical knowledge and experience gained in graduate coursework on computer integration in their teaching. The authors then examine ways in which teachers continue their professional development in CALL. More specifically, this study explores how the teachers learn about computer-assisted activities; how what they learn in their coursework interacts with their current teaching contexts; the factors that influence whether they use computers in their classrooms; and how they continue to acquire and master new ideas in CALL. …

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