Magazine article Technology & Learning

New Teachers and Technology: Are They Prepared?

Magazine article Technology & Learning

New Teachers and Technology: Are They Prepared?

Article excerpt

As government investments in school technology increase, schools of education are pushed to arm new teachers with the knowledge and skills to use it.

Over the past decade, federal, state and local governments have invested billions of dollars to outfit schools with computers and telecommunications technologies with high expectations for improved student preparation and performance. Today, over 1.6 million computers sit in American schools, and billions of dollars are being spent to connect these computers to the Internet. Despite this investment, a recent survey done by the National Center for Education Statistics found that only 20 percent of the 2.5 million teachers who currently work in our public schools feel comfortable using technology in their classrooms.

Bringing the existing teaching force up to speed is a massive task that will require extensive professional development over many years, a problem that will be greatly exacerbated if the teachers entering the profession have not been adequately prepared to use information technologies. Within the next ten years, over two million new teachers will be needed to replace retiring teachers and meet increased student enrollment. If the technology we're investing in is ever to become an effective tool for learning, these new teachers must be skilled in using it.

The State of Teacher Education

To what degree are institutions of higher education preparing tomorrow's classroom teachers to use technology? According to Dr. Arthur Wise, president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), while some institutions are in the vanguard of preparing technology-savvy teachers, most schools of education do not adequately train teachers to use and integrate technology into their teaching. Seldom are students asked to practice teaching with technological tools; most go out into the field with a limited view of the ways technology can be used in the classroom. Moreover, while 38 states have technology requirements for teacher preparation programs, only two states, Vermont and North Carolina, require actual evidence of proficiency in the use of technology in teaching, says Jeanne Hayes, president of Quality Education Data.

According to Cheryl Williams, director of Education Technology Programs at the National School Boards Association, there are several reasons why colleges of education have not integrated technology into their courses. First, many teacher education programs lack the hardware and software necessary to incorporate technology into the teaching agenda. Second, in many instances, the education faculties have not been provided the training they need to use technology effectively. Third, a majority of teacher education departments have not been able to invest in the technical support required to maintain a high-quality technology program. And finally, some higher education faculties have little understanding of the changes technology is bringing to K-12 classrooms, and therefore have not adjusted their own teaching methodologies to reflect these changes.

Teaching Teachers: New Initiatives

"If you can get teachers to use technology effectively in their own lives, you have won 90 percent of the battle," says Dr. Linda Roberts, special advisor on technology at the U.S. Department of Education. Realizing that prospective teachers should effectively be able to use the technologies they will find in their schools, the U. …

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