ERIC Identifier: ED460190
Publication Date: 2001-12-00
Author: Lonergan, James M.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Urban Education New York NY.
Preparing Urban Teachers To Use Technology for Instruction.
Since the early 1990s, the gap in the availability of computers and Internet
access between schools in affluent and poor areas has decreased dramatically.
While most schools now have computer and Internet access, many teachers still
have difficulty with incorporating this new technology into instruction. This is
particularly true in poorer urban school districts, where funding and time for
teacher technology training are often lacking.
This digest reviews the current state of teacher preparation for using
educational technology to improve student performance and achievement. It also
describes some promising initiatives for improving teacher technology training.
TECHNOLOGY SKILLS OF INSERVICE TEACHERS
Most teachers have
some familiarity with computers and are able to use a variety of computer
software. Further, 94 percent of all respondents to a recent National Education
Association (2000) survey, and 99 percent of the respondents under 35, are able
to search the Internet.
Many teachers do not know how to incorporate computer skills into classroom
instruction, however, according to a National Center for Education Statistics
report (U.S. Department of Education, 2000a). Almost two-thirds of all teachers
reported feeling not at all prepared or only somewhat prepared to use technology
in their teaching, but younger teachers, who grew up with computers and were
educated with them, indicated they felt better prepared to use technology than
their more experienced colleagues. Not surprisingly, teachers who reported
feeling better prepared to use technology were more likely to make use of it
than those who indicated they felt less prepared.
THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN LOW-INCOME SCHOOLS
technology, when used to develop higher-order thinking skills, can have a
positive impact on learning, according to a study by the Educational Testing
Service (Wenglinsky, 1998). But teachers in low-income schools often teach about
the computer itself, and use computers for drill and practice, rather than for
research, inquiry, and communication, as is often the practice in wealthier
schools. This strategy is based on the assumption that children who lack basic
skills need to learn them through drill before they can move on to higher-order
thinking activities. Unfortunately, these children often do not get the
opportunity to progress to higher-order problem solving. Furthermore, research
has shown that in real-life situations lower-order and higher-order thinking are
not separated; therefore, effective teaching should combine the two (President's
TECHNOLOGY TRAINING IN TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Practice. A recent study by the Milken Exchange on Education Technology (1999)
and the International Society for Technology in Education found that, "in
general, teacher-training programs do not provide future teachers with the kinds
of experiences necessary to prepare them to use technology effectively in their
classrooms." It emphasized that since the United States will need a projected
2.2 million new teachers over the next decade, "the time to examine and
re-engineer our teacher preparation programs is now."
The study also pointed out several other deficiencies prevalent in teacher
education programs (Milken Exchange, 1999):
* Approximately one-third of teacher education programs are limited by their
information technology facilities.
* Most teacher training program faculty do not model the use of technology in
* Most teacher training programs do not have a written, funded, regularly
updated technology plan.
* Most student teachers do not routinely use technology in their field
experience and do not work with teachers who can advise them on its use,
although information technology is available in the K-12 classrooms where
student teachers get their field experience.
Recommendations for Improvement
The most important recommendation of the Milken Exchange study is to
integrate technology training into the entire teacher education program, since
instructional time spent in other classes, such as methods and curriculum
courses, is much more useful for educating student teachers about computer use
than are formal stand-alone technology courses. The study also recommends that
the following strategies be incorporated into teacher training programs (1999):
* Focus institutional technology planning on the integration of technology in
teaching and learning, not only on facilities.
* Provide student teachers with more opportunities to apply technology during
* Give school of education faculty the tools, incentives, and professional
development they need to integrate technology into the teacher training
The Web-Based Education Commission, established by Congress in 1997,
recommends making professional development in technology a high priority (U.S.
Department of Education, 2000b). It cites several initiatives by Congress, the
states, universities, professional organizations, and the business community
which support intensive technology training for teachers:
* The Higher Education Act Amendments, passed by Congress and signed into law
in 1998, hold institutions of higher education accountable for preparing
teachers who are highly qualified not only in academic content areas but also in
the effective use of technology in the classroom.
* The majority of states--42--now require that teachers demonstrate
proficiency in technology as one component for receiving certification.
* The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE),
working with the International Society for Technology in Education, is
incorporating technology standards into its accreditation process for teacher
education colleges. While this effort is promising, NCATE is responsible for
accrediting only 38 percent of the 1,300 teacher preparation programs in the
* The CEO Forum developed a special StaR (School Technology and Readiness)
self-assessment tool for schools and colleges of education. Over 240
institutions have undergone self-assessments to bring their programs from "low
tech," with little or no technology use, to "target tech," the model for
innovative use of educational technology.
CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR INSERVICE TEACHERS
states require technology training for recertification of teachers, so much
remains to be done in this area (Trotter, 1999). The CEO Forum on Education and
Technology (1999) recommends the following:
* Every state should develop standards for effective continuing education on
integrating technology into the curriculum.
* Schools and districts should develop technology plans that include
professional development in the use of technology and proficiency standards.
* Every teacher and administrator should have access to information
* Resources for technology-related professional development should be
* Every professional development program should integrate technology into its
The Federal Office of Technology Assessment (1995) recommended that school
districts devote at least 30 percent of their technology budgets to teacher
training and support. However, only 6 percent of the $4.2 billion that K-12
schools spent on technology in 1996 went towards training (U.S. Dept. Of
Education, 2000b). That figure increased to 17 percent for public school teacher
technology training for the 1999-2000 school year, but it is still far below the
recommended amount (Market Data Retrieval, 1999).
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR TEACHER TECHNOLOGY TRAINING
Presidential Panel report recommended that teachers need in-depth, sustained
assistance to integrate computer use into the curriculum and reconcile new
methods of instruction which use technology extensively with traditional methods
(President's Committee, 1997). One program offering such training is the Teacher
Led Technology Challenge (TLTC) in Berkeley, California, funded by the U.S.
Department of Education's Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Program; it
provides teachers with extensive support, tools, and professional development. A
Classroom Technology Integration Specialist in each school plans and consults
with teachers regularly during times set aside for this purpose. The TLTC was
designed for adaptation by other school systems serving predominantly low-income
and racially diverse populations (U.S. Dept. Of Education, 2000b).
The U.S. Department of Education's Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use
Technology (PT3) Program, begun in 1999, offers grants to support teacher
preparation improvements--mostly in low-income communities, rural areas, and
among minority groups and special populations. In its first two fiscal years the
program has made a total of $300 million available to teacher preparation
institutions. The funds will help them develop programs that prepare prospective
teachers to use technology for improved instructional practices and student
learning opportunities. By 2004, over one million teachers will have received
technology training as a result of these grants (see http://pt3.org/).
The Federal government is also facilitating technology learning through
support of online learning environments, since the Internet can help isolated
teachers make new connections and expand access to new resources. Specifically,
the Internet can provide collaborative learning environments where teachers
reflect on their practice, share expertise, and build a common understanding of
new instructional approaches, by engaging with colleagues and experts in the
field. An example is the Maryland Electronic Learning Community, also funded by
the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Program, which uses email,
videoconferencing, digitized video, and Internet resources to support curriculum
and professional development (Riel & Fulton, 2001; see
http://www.learn.umd.edu/ for a description). Two among many online sites where
teachers and students can engage in collaborative learning and reflection are
TAPPED IN (www.tappedin.sri.com) and the International Education and Resource
The CEO Forum on Education and Technology.
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Riel, M., & Fulton, K., (2001, March). The role of technology in
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