Volume 8, Number 2: October 15, 2001
Zeon, Mary Lundeberg, Lori Beiging, and Karen Ryan
Department of Teacher Education
College of Education and Professional Studies
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Our experiences and research indicate that programs preparing pre-service teachers to use technology must focus on curriculum, student-centered pedagogy, and field-based learning. We believe it is not the technology itself, but rather the way teachers use technology, that gives us the potential to change education (Carr, Jonassen, Litzinger, Marra, 1998).
Pre-service teachers need to see technology modeled in schools and in their disciplines; they also need to practice combining university coursework that includes technology assignments with their field-based learning. At the same time, teacher education faculty must have ongoing discussions about their courses to promote the use of relevant, integrated technology projects.
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UW-RF) has developed a model program, Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to use Technology (PT3), that moves toward this approach. It includes four components:
1. Faculty consultants who redesign curriculum in the college of education or in arts and sciences courses;
2. Teachers in school districts who provide hands-on learning opportunities integrating technology into their curriculum for the field experiences required of pre-service teachers;
3, Pre-service teachers who prepare reflective multimedia portfolios according to the Wisconsin Teacher Standards; and
4. Pre-service teachers in the Technology Leadership Cadre (TLC) who provide workshops and individual assistance for students, faculty, and teachers.
Our website at http://www.uwrf.edu/pt3/ provides additional information on our PT3 program.
While select courses in educational technology are important, they do not satisfy the growing need for pre-service teachers to learn to use technology effectively. It is paramount that pre-service teachers experience various forms of technology in their foundations and methods courses, as well as in arts and science courses. Not all courses are conducive to the same kinds of technology use; however, by the end of their coursework, students should have experienced a wide range of technology skills and experiences. These experiences will help them use technology more reflectively and critically.
To that end, teacher education programs need to look for creative ways to allocate time and resources for faculty. Faculty are often either too busy or lack access to the timely, personalized, needs-based support so crucial for acquiring skills and knowledge in technology (Lundeberg, Zeon & Parsons, 1999). Supporting faculty who decide to integrate technology into their courses, both where appropriate modeling occurs and where pre-service teachers are provided with authentic assignments using technology, has been a major challenge.
We believe progress is being made in this realm at UW-RF, as faculty are encouraged to become faculty consultants in the PT3 program. Faculty consultants earn $3,000 for integrating technology into their teacher education courses. They submit a report describing the background, description, and goals of their project, reflection on how the project was integrated into their course, and an evaluation of the project that includes samples of student work (http://www.uwrf.edu/pt3/consortia/consultants.html).
The pre-service teacher members of the Technology Leadership Cadre (TLC) support faculty who integrate technology into their courses.
According to a participating faculty member, "The faculty prefer to get help by TLC students than by faculty. We [faculty] tried things we wouldn't have done before or taken the risk to do. You don't have to be an expert in everything, but can take pedagogical risks the members of the TLC are not considered technical experts but facilitators."
Teacher Leaders in Partner Schools
Successful technology integration requires a major commitment at all levels. Review of the research suggests that schools investing substantially in time, resources, and training in a collaborative fashion have greater records of success (Burnett, 1994).
Thus, in 1994, the College of Education and Professional Studies at UW-River Falls partnered with faculty and staff from the Hudson and River Falls school districts to design and implement the GOALS 2000 project creating a shared vision about technology integration in classroom settings (http://www.uwrf.edu/college-of-education/goals2000/welcome.html). In the program's fourth year, with monies from the University of Wisconsin System, we expanded the partnership to include the Prescott School District and St. Bridget's School in River Falls. Two additional districts, Ellsworth and New Richmond, were added this year.
As part of this collaboration with school districts, interns from UW-RF replace teachers who serve as teacher leaders in their schools to integrate technology into the curriculum. The teacher leaders in the K-12 schools serve as facilitators and mentors for other teachers in their buildings and/or districts. Teachers and teacher leaders in partner schools are also supported by TLC members.
The Technology Leadership Cadre (TLC)
TLC members assist and mentor faculty individually or by conducting workshops in classes where faculty have projects or assignments involving technology. TLC members also assist prospective teachers in the program individually, in small group settings or through workshops using various technology skills.
Working collaboratively in live and virtual communities to assess and meet the needs of the teacher education community, the TLC also participates in committee work and promotes the use of web-based, multi-media learning resources through workshops, web resources and handouts. They reflect on their progress in the PT3 program through electronic discussions and focus group interviews.
Quantitative and qualitative evaluations of the workshops provided indicate they were most helpful at teaching new knowledge and skills to participants. Survey results overall have been very positive. And teaching others about technology has had a positive impact on TLC members as well. As one member wrote:
"I have taken challenges in learning new ways to implement technology in the classroom as a student and a future teacher. I feel my experience interacting with faculty and students on campus, dealing with technology, has been beneficial to enhance and communicate the skills I have gained. I also had the opportunity to work at schools in the surrounding area, which has been an immeasurable experience."
Reflective Multimedia Portfolios (RMP)
Another major task of the TLC is to help pre-service teachers at UW-RF develop the reflective multimedia portfolios (RMP) that will be required of all graduating teacher education students by 2004. RMPs have at least five uses:
1. To allow students to reflect on and express their individuality as teachers;
2. To serve as an assessment portfolio indicating how students have met the Wisconsin Teacher Standards and the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards;
3. To provide data for program evaluation;
4. To form the basis for or to be used as a job portfolio; and
5. To use and modify as a professional portfolio as in-service teachers.
For more information about reflective multimedia portfolios, visit (http://www.uwrf.edu/pt3/portfolios/welcome.html).
We have learned many lessons through our involvement in this PT3 program:
1. Undergraduate teacher education students who are TLCs can effectively teach technology.
2. Most faculty prefer to be individually mentored at their own convenience.
3. Faculty will change course assignments when supported with TLC assistance and workshops.
4. Involving TLCs in a leadership capacity develops pre-service teachers' leadership (Lundeberg, Zeon, Bieging, Brown, Ingebrand, 2001).
The PT3 model addressed several technology challenges because it provided needs-based, timely assistance focused on instructional technology integration, not technology for technology's sake. One of our major challenges as we continue with the program is finding innovative and cost effective ways to institutionalize what has been so beneficial for UW-RF students, faculty, and teacher leaders at our partner schools.
Burnett, G. (1994). "Technology as a Tool for Urban Classrooms." New York, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 368809).
Carr, A., D. Jonassen, M.E. Litzinger, and R. Marra. "Good Ideas to Foment Educational Revolution: The Role of Systematic Change in Advancing Situated Learning, Constructivism, and Feminist Pedagogy." Educational Technology, January-February, 1998, 5-14.
Lundeberg, M., S. Zeon, L. Bieging, A. Brown, and M. Ingebrand. 2001. "Pre-service Teachers' Reflections on Technology Leadership: I'll Take Risks if There's a Net to Catch Me." Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual conference, Seattle, Washington.
Lundeberg, M., S. Zeon, and J. Parsons. 1999. Enhancing Technology Infusion through PK-12/Teacher Education Partnerships. Washington, D.C.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education. ED.