The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Education Department is committed to developing teacher candidates who make professional decisions which help all students achieve their full potential as persons and as responsible world citizens in a democratic society. Computer technology has become a major force in communicating the ideas and information that shape our lives, our society, and our world. Teachers must understand the power of computer technology and be able to use it effectively if they are to truly help all students achieve their potential. Herein lies the need which drives the CSB/SJU Education Department Technology Plan: we need to assure that our teacher candidates have the knowledge and skills to effectively use computer technology to help all students achieve their potential and take their place as responsible citizens.
This technology plan, developed by the CSB/SJU Education Department in collaboration with P-12 educators and CSB/SJU Information Technology Services (ITS), is a work in progress. Like the technology for which it plans, it will continue to evolve as it reflects a rapidly growing knowledge-base as well as the emerging needs of both students and their instructors from preschool through grade twelve (P-12).
Our plan begins with a vision for technology in P-12 education. This vision examines the role of technology in the society and world and the relationship to schools. It also includes the emerging directions we envision P-12 schools moving with technology in the next five years.
We next describe our guiding vision for using technology in ways that will transform how we expect to “do” teacher education. If we truly believe that P-12 education will change with available technology, then the ways in which we prepare P-12 teacher candidates must also change to reflect our vision of that transformation. Wider use of a variety of instructional media integrated with rapidly evolving as information and communication technologies will speed the transformation of teachers’ as well as learners’ roles and attitudes.
Drawing on our guiding vision, this plan identifies the goals and objectives that we now believe will move us toward realizing that vision. These goals and objective are somewhat audacious for a teacher education program in relatively small liberal arts colleges. Nonetheless, we commit ourselves to them with the full support of the strategic plan developed by the CSB/SJU Information Technology Services (CSB/SJU, 1997) and the joint institutional strategic plan of the two colleges. Our plan includes an inventory of our current technology resources available for our faculty and candidates. Finally, the plan concludes with our strategies for using technology to support our commitment to the continuous improvement of our education program.
The Need for Technological Literacy
Technology is now a fact of life that is rapidly transforming the way Americans live, work, and play (U.S. Department of Education, 1996). There is hardly any aspect of our culture or way of life that has not been directly affected by technological developments over the past 20 years. Our homes, cars, food, language, and even our relationships with each other have been impacted by technological developments that have occurred in our own lifetimes. Business, industry, health care, communications, entertainment, the arts, transportation, agriculture, government and politics, journalism, television, research and publishing, and on and on have all changed and continue to be transformed through developments in technology. Life is not the same. Society and the world are not the same. Every aspect of life continues to be transformed with and through technology.
Technological literacy is an imperative for functioning effectively in our technology age. Dugger (1997) declared, “Technological literacy is considered to be critical to the success of individuals, entire societies, and to the Earth’s ecological balance.” Technological literacy is imperative for communication. It is imperative for maintaining an informed citizenship. It is imperative for understanding and working effectively within our economy. Technological is emerging as a new mandate for American schools. The United States Department of Education, predicting this evolution, set the goal of achieving technological literacy as a “national priority” in 1996.
Technology in Schools
Interestingly, schools and learning are areas that have been among the least affected by developments in computer technology over the past 20 years. The technological revolution has had little impact on the learning that has taken place in schools for a large majority of students during this time. Many schools were quick to place a computer or two in classrooms 20 years ago, but those computers were often little more than toys for students to use after they had finished their paper and pencil work. The power of computers has rarely been a force used to transform student learning.
While it is reasonable to expect students to develop the computer and technological literacy needed to function effectively in a high tech world, the question of whether computer technology can really improve student learning is another matter altogether. Does computer technology really improve student learning in ways that justify the investment of billions of dollars in it? What is the value of computer technology for student learning?
Many studies have assessed the impact of computer technology on student learning. As with most research, the findings of well executed studies do not, for the most part, demonstrate the absolute value of computer technology in-and-of-itself for learning. Rather, these studies generally provide evidence that technology has a positive impact on student learning in certain prescribed contexts and under specific conditions. Thus, the more appropriate question is: “How, and in what ways can computer technology best be utilized to improve student learning?”
A growing number of studies have been done in recent years on the effectiveness of computer technology to enhance or improve student learning. Three meta-analyses of these studies (Kimble, 1999, Schacter, 1999, and Mergendoller, 1997) discussed the findings and conclusions of many other research on the effectiveness of different strategies for using computer technology to improve or enhance student learning. These studies considered a variety of factors including specific software, learning strategies, grouping, content area, age and grade level, literacy, multimedia features, skills, distance learning, and more. Together, the findings and conclusions of these studies form the foundation of a developing knowledge-base about the effective use of computers in learning. This knowledge-base in turn, must inform the decisions of pre-service teachers and professional educators about the best practices impacting student learning.
Clearly, teachers must be prepared to make good decisions about using technology to enhance and improve student learning. Teachers can only make good instructional decisions when they understand how students’ learn, when they know well the content they seek to teach, and when they can use optimal pedagogy and technology to connect student learning with specific content. To do this, teachers themselves must be adept at pedagogical uses of technology. They must understand the power of technology and the ways it can be used to improve student learning. Teachers themselves must be both technologically and pedagogically literate.
Billions of dollars have been spent in the past ten years on wiring schools for computer technology. Today, 95 percent of American schools and 72 percent of classrooms are connected to the Internet (CEO Forum, 2000a). Nonetheless, only 30 percent of American teachers report using the Internet for student research. A meager 16 percent use it for lesson planning.
A major reason teachers fail to use computers is that despite the tremendous commitment of resources to placing computers in schools, very little has been invested in providing teachers with the training and resources to actually use technology in ways that help students learn. The Office of Technology Assessment reported that “...in the enthusiasm to get technology to students, and in the context of limited resources, teacher issues have been shortchanged.”
Technology training for teachers has often been minimized by emphasizing general computer literacy or familiarity with particular applications. Rarely has technology training addressed empowering teacher effectiveness. “To use new technologies well, teachers not only need access to them, but they also need opportunities to discover what the technologies can do, learn how to operate them, and experiment with ways to apply them” (Office of Technology Assessment, 1995).
In recognizing the importance of appropriate teacher training to achieve technological literacy for students, the United States Department of Education identified four major goals.The first of those goals was for all teachers in the nation to have the training and support they need to help students learn using computers and the information highway (U.S. Department of Education, 1996). This technology plan is our response to this national goal for the future teachers we prepare.
Developing a Vision with Changing Technologies
The only constant about computer technology is that it is constantly changing. State-of-the-art technology is always faster, smaller, more powerful, and more readily accessible than the technologies which came before it. Today’s technologically current classrooms, like today’s technologically current teachers and technologically literate students, are inadequately prepared unless they anticipate and plan to change and grow along with the technology they seek to master. A plan for the future of technology in education must be fluid, expecting constant change. The vision must resist being limited to the acquisition of specific hardware, software applications, or prescribed steps to be learned to use those technologies. Rather, a vision for the future of technology in education should describe the qualities of learning that are desired and ways technological developments might be viewed as a means to address those qualities.
Likewise, a vision for the future of technology in education must make clear that it is educational values that drive the technology plan, rather than the technology driving the educational plan. Educational technology should always, and only, be used in ways that enhance the kinds of learning we value. Educational technology should be used to accomplish worthy educational goals. Educational technology should not be used in schools just because it is available. Learning is the goal to be measured, “not the amount of technology used” (Thornburg, 1999).
Technology and P-12 Educational Values and Goals
The world is a complex place that is undergoing much change. Changes in society constantly place new demands on schools. And yet, in the midst of all these changes and new demands, schools are now held to a higher level of scrutiny and accountability than ever before. As we move into the 21st century, the CSB/SJU Education Department finds three core values at the center of our efforts to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of P-12 schools in this changing world. These values include…
We see these values as the guideposts for much of current educational research, policy making, and curriculum development and reform. As such, they should also be at the core of decisions made by P-12 schools and their teachers about the technology they will used to help all students learn.
The Future of P-12 Education and Technology
Technology has a history of holding much promise for future of education. The “magic lantern” of the 19th century, predecessor of the 20th century slide projector, promised a revolution in teaching by “bringing the world to students through spectacular images on the classroom wall.” But the magic lantern, like the filmstrip projector, instructional television, and Commodore computers, failed to realize that promise (Kent & McNergney, 1999). The technologies of the past remain at the margins of education, failing to replace either chalk talks or textbooks as the primary tools of teachers. Will today’s technologies bring about the revolution in learning?
Perhaps one reason the technologies of the past were so short-lived is that they offered no versatility. They delivered information in only one form. Furthermore, the information they delivered was not, for the most part, time sensitive. Updating the information those technologies could deliver was an expensive and controlled endeavor. As a result, the technologies of the past merely supplemented rather than replaced the primary technologies of chalkboards and books.
Computer technologies, on the other hand, are already much more versatile than these earlier marvels, and they continue to become more so. One computer can be used to view images from art museums and read newspapers from around the world. The same computer can also be used to write poetry, compose music, listen to a symphony, send a message to a friend, place orders, and file tax returns. Furthermore, all of these activities can be done relatively easily and at any time. Indeed, as computers continue to evolve from their infancy into a mature technology, they will emerge as facile tools able to carry out more applications at greater speeds.
Developments in technology have made time a rapidly changing variable. Most schools operate with time functioning as a constant related to learning. That is to say, learning is prescribed and measured within constant or set periods of time (quarters, semesters, and years). Students are tested to determine how well they can demonstrate learning during those time periods. The time period is a constant, as is the material that is covered and on which students are tested. The variable is the level of learning that students demonstrate during the set time period. Students are then sorted (via grades) by their level of performance within these standard periods of time. Every student’s performance is measured within a prescribed standard of time and identified with quantified position on a graded scale.
This method of sorting students comes from an “Industrial Age” model of schooling (Thornburg, 1999). It is a poor fit with our core values of equity, respect for human dignity and diversity, and responsible world citizenship. Schooling that sorts students places greater or lesser values on individual differences. It does not respect differences in individual learning styles. It does not provide equitable learning opportunities. It does not prepare all students for responsible world citizenship. It does, however, identify degrees of success with winners and losers.
Our age of evolving technologies allows us to imagine a new model of education where student learning is the standard, the constant, and the focus of educators. In this new model, time is a variable related to high standards of student learning. Every student will be expected to learn to a high standard, and will be provided appropriate opportunities to do so. It is the way each student learns and the time it takes that will vary from student to student. The educator’s role in this model is to appropriately facilitate the learning of each student to recognized high standards.
High standards of learning have already been established by various national professional teacher associations (e.g., National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Science Teachers Association, etc.). The learning standards established by these organizations prescribe what students need to know and what they need to do. Emerging computer technologies allow educators to accommodate the learning styles and diverse needs of all students in meeting these standards.
In the past, educators spoke of using technology to bring the world into the classroom. Now, we speak of using technology to make the world into a classroom.Significant student learning no longer must be limited to conventional classrooms or class periods. Rather, students can now access any major library in the world through the web at what ever time is most helpful for them.
Likewise, students can now directly access renowned experts addressing major issues and controversies within their field; students can participate in video conferences or discussions about any topic at anytime of day or night; they can see current historic or scientific events as they happen or at any other time that meets their needs. Classroom walls and clocks need no longer confine learning to particular spaces and times. Computers continue to evolve as smaller, faster, and more powerful tools to bring learning opportunities to us at anytime and from any place.
This “anytime, anyplace” learning is sustained by technological developments which make accessing information and communication through computers faster, more dependable, and of better quality than ever before. Student learning activities are not limited by either geography or time. These developments also make it possible for educators to plan to engage students’ diverse learning styles as well as support the development of their multiple intelligences. With multimedia projects, for example, student creativity can be engaged and developed.
In addition to using technology to enhance student learning, educators can themselves share in the same benefits of accessing information and communicating anytime, anyplace. Educators can engage and collaborate with each other on student learning through electronic “chat rooms,” “listservs,” and “on-line” conferences. They can maintain contact with parents through e-mail and video-conferencing. They can keep up-to-date by finding and using the latest developments on any topic.
Our vision for P-12 education is that computer-based technology will transform schooling by re-defining the contextual places and times in which students and educators alike can access information, can communicate with each other, and can learn. Educators must be prepared to make decisions that will actively guide, direct, and effect this transformation in their respective schools. They will be prepared for vision as they develop a thorough understanding of the diverse ways in which students learn, as well as the standards of excellence to which student learning is to be directed, and the ways technology can be used to creatively engage students in achieving the standards of excellence in classrooms that are unbounded by time and geography.
Teacher candidates must be prepared to make decisions that will guide, direct, and effect the transformation of learning so all students can achieve their full potential as persons and as responsible world citizens in a democratic society. We have already discussed ways in which technology has been transforming the world and the potential it has for transforming education. We intend that our teacher education program will prepare teacher candidates for making decisions to use technology that will effect this transformation.
Our vision for preparing teacher candidates to make decisions to effectively use technology includes three major components. First, a vision of our program delivering the knowledge and skills teacher candidates will need as they begin their practice. Second, a vision of the technology resources we will need to provide that preparation. Third, a vision of how to asses the effectiveness of our efforts to prepare candidates to use the technologies that will be available in their classrooms and schools.
There are two major schools of thought on how best to prepare pre-service teachers to effectively integrate technology into their teaching (Brush, 1998). One approach is for pre-service teachers to take courses that provide them with technology skills and experiences in a variety of content domains and which give them opportunities to use technology in lesson design and implementation. The advantage of this approach is that pre-service teachers are able to learn about technology and instruction from an instructor who has specialized in that area. While this approach affords pre-service teachers the opportunity to learn from a master in technology instruction, they may experience technology instruction only in that instructor’s courses. This approach does not enable pre-service teachers to experience technology integrated into all content learning.
The other major school of thought is that pre-service teachers ought to learn how to effectively integrate technology with instruction through the content and teaching methods courses they complete. These courses, if taught by faculty who are steeped in a variety of strategies to facilitate learning in specific content areas, do not focus on technology alone but instead on how such technologies can be used to teach specific bodies of knowledge. The advantage of this approach is that pre-service teachers are able to learn strategies for integrating technology into the teaching of all content areas (CEO Forum, 2000b). While this approach makes strong connections between technology and content, methods instructors are often not well-versed in technology and instructional methods.
The CSB/SJU Education Department has chosen to this latter route in the belief that technology will be most effectively integrated into teaching when it is understood as one of many pedagogical tools for delivering content instruction to students. The challenge for us is that few of our methods instructors are well-versed in technology instruction. Nonetheless, guided by our “Teacher as Decision Maker” conceptual framework, we believe our teacher education program will be most effective in developing strong teacher candidates when we as a faculty take the leap and learn effective ways of incorporating technology into our own instruction. As a faculty, we will model best practices of teaching with technology in our areas of expertise. We are committed to “walking the talk,” even as we envision a need for ways to help our faculty acquire and use advanced technological skills.
By programmatically incorporating technology into the course work (and especially into the methods classes) of pre-service teachers, we will further strengthen our program. Our vision also includes a programmatic emphasis on incorporating technology components into pre-student teaching clinical and practicum teaching experiences in our partner P-12 schools. Through these experiences, pre-service teachers learn to apply their knowledge of content and pedagogy and follow-up with reflection and assessment of their teaching experiences.
Because these experiences are so important in forming and re-forming our pre-service teachers’ ideas and dispositions about teaching, we envision programmatically integrating effective uses of technology into these experiences. Such experiences establish normative expectations of teaching for the pre-service teachers. Clearly, we want the effective integration of technology into instruction to be a part of those normative expectations.
Realizing our vision of using technology to transform P-12 learning begins with the specification of specific CSB/SJU Education Department outcomes for teacher candidates with regard to technology and learning. Our aim is to prepare teacher candidates who have the knowledge and skills to make decisions for using technology to most effectively help all students achieve their full potential as persons and as responsible world citizens in a democratic society.
Toward this aim, we have identified six programmatic outcomes along with the respective standards for each of those outcomes. We have adopted the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, 2000) as our program outcomes:
Outcome 1:Teacher candidates demonstrate a sound understanding of technology operations and concepts.
Outcome 2 Teacher candidates plan and design effective learning environments and experiences supported by technology.Outcome 3 Teacher candidates implement curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for applying technology to maximize student learning.
Outcome 4 Teacher candidates apply technology to facilitate a variety of effective assessment and evaluation strategies.
Outcome 5: Teacher candidates use technology to enhance their productivity and professional practice.Outcome 6Teacher candidates understand the social, ethical, legal, and human issues surrounding the use of technology in P-12 schools and apply those principles in practice.
Each of these program outcomes can be observed and described using NET Standards (See Appendix 1). In order to achieve these outcomes for all our teacher candidates, we have identified seven goals and their corresponding enabling objectives.
Goal 1 To provide all pre-service teachers with appropriate opportunities to learn, apply, and be assessed on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS).
Goal 2: To annually assess the current state of technology integration in courses taken by pre-service teachers.
Goal 3:To provide staff development for Education Department faculty that will lead to greater implementation of best practices for using technology in teaching.
Goal 4: To give high priority to recognizing and encouraging both the effective and the creative uses of technology by Education Department faculty.
Goal 5: To work with partner schools in developing and/or implementing their respective plans for effective integration of technology in P-12 teaching.
Goal 6:To provide Education Department faculty and students ready and appropriate access to the best available technologies and support for effective research, personal productivity, and teaching.
Goal 7:To establish annual benchmarks and employ a review process for assessing the preparation and readiness of pre-service teachers to teach effectively with technology.
The CSB/SJU Education Department has a strong tradition of educating pre-service teachers to be effective decision makers. We seek to develop teachers who have a strong and well grounded knowledge base, as well as the vision and skills to help all students achieve their full potential as persons and as world citizens in a democratic society. Doing this in a world which is constantly changing requires on-going program assessment with an eye on continuous improvement. Digital technology is a key component in changing this world. Digital technology is also a critical tool for on-going assessment and improvement of our teacher education programs so that we are able to continue providing our students with the resources for effective decision making in a changing world.
Digital technology is an assessment tool which empowers us to continuously improve our teacher education programs first and foremost by facilitating communication between all constituencies of our programs: students and faculty, partnership schools, student teachers, and professional associations, as well as agencies of government, business, and industry. Through digital communications, we are all able to be better informed of emerging and on-going issues affecting P-12 education and teacher education programs. Digital technology is also a tool through which we can access and process information related to course and program outcomes. Electronic portfolios, public folders, and a wide array of software applications allow us to access information over time about student outcomes and process that information to make judgments about improving programmatic effectiveness.
Appendix 1: National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers
The following standards have been advanced by the International Society for Technology in Education as descriptive of what candidates for licensure as elementary or secondary level teachers should be able to know, do, and value with respect to educational technology upon completion of their student teaching experience. These standards with supporting information are provided for review at http://cnets.iste.org/teachers/t_profile-stu.html.
The fifteen student teaching standards are categorized in one or more of six technology areas which coincide with the outcomes adopted for the unit’s 2000-2005 technology plan.
I. Technology operations and concepts
II. Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences
III. Teaching, Learning, and the curriculum
IV. Assessment and Evaluation
V. Productivity and Professional Practice
VI. Social, Ethical, Legal, and Human Issues
Upon completion of their student teaching experience, as they are recommended for licensure, novice teachers should be able to…
The Teacher Preparation STaR Chart offers individual schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDEs) an explicit tool to determine their current standing and future direction. It provides a visual display of key factors for the integration of technology in all aspects of preparing teacher candidates. Like the K-12 STaR Chart, its uses include:
Setting benchmarks and goals:
Applying for grants:
Creating assessment tools:
The Teacher Preparation STaR Chart has three levels: Early, Developing, and Advanced Tech. Each category also has a Target Tech indicator which sets a goal for the overall implementation. It is assumed that institutions will fall within various levels across the matrix. Typically, an institution will be further along in some areas than others.
We encourage all those who care about the renewal of teacher preparation programs on campus—university leaders, teacher education deans, faculty, and students—to study the STaR Chart and make it a starting point for discussions within the institution. While this document presents a graphical layout of the STaR indicators and levels, the CEO Forum website (www.ceoforum.org) contains an online version of this tool that can be used for conducting an institutional assessment. The categories and indicators of the chart are described more fully in Part II of this document.
Teacher Preparation STaR Chart is available as a printed document at http://www.ceoforum.org/downloads/tpchart.pdf An interactive version of this tool is also available at http://star.aacte.org/
Our Technology Plan calls upon us to “annually assess the current state of technology integration in courses taken by pre-service teachers” (Goal 2, page 10). This goal will be reached through a survey of “Education Department faculty on “their uses of technology in teaching” (Objective 2.1) and “By developing a grid which records the various technologies used by Education Faculty Members” (2.2). Our defense of our claim that we provide candidates with opportunities to know about, apply, and be assessed on facets of informational and instructional technology would be enhanced with evidence describing those opportunities.
Outcomes Our technology plan calls for candidates to know, apply, and be assessed on each of six outcomes adapted from those offered by the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). These program outcomes enable the candidates we prepare for licensure to…
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