What Will/Should “EdTech 101” Evolve Into?

We have all taken it, taught it, criticized it, and pondered its effectiveness. We teach students a bunch of “tools”, gadgets, software, and/or hardware or a combination thereof. Currently the Microsoft Office Suite is the chosen product to teach in many EdTech 101 courses, maybe with a little Inspiration, Kid Pix, and Dreamweaver thrown in for “good measure” or “just in case a student wants to get into it.”

However, many feel that teaching all these tools doesn’t translate into these preservice teachers integrating technology. Most feel that our preservice teachers use these tools to do their “teacher stuff” but don’t let the students use it or learn with or from the technology. Basically, preservice teachers leave the EdTech 101 course with a set of skills and knowledge that is disconnected from and separate from any instructional design and technology integration theory.

We teach tools because there is always something new that comes out. Decades ago it was slide and filmstrip projectors, then televisions, video cassette recorders, computer based instruction, software tools, the Internet, DVDs, digital cameras, digital microscopes, scanners…. What’s next? Palm Pilots, iPods, and other handheld devices (some of you may already be using these)? Flash? TiVo? Final Cut? Adobe Atmosphere? Virtual reality? The evolution and progression of new technology seems to invade the EdTech 101 course so we can “keep our students up to date” or “prepare them for the [insert next century or decade here]’s” claims. The way many EdTech 101 courses are structured and the content is taught perpetuates the cycle of non-integration because we teach tools, but not integration. We show students how to use the technology tools, but don’t show them or teach them how to get the students to use them or why they should.

How can we break this cycle? Do we even want to? What would an EdTech 101 course look like if we could change it? Would preservice teachers benefit from the changes?

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

12 thoughts on “What Will/Should “EdTech 101” Evolve Into?”

  1. Here is <a href=”http://www.durandus.com/blog/?p=168″ rel=”nofollow”>Nathan Lowell’s Response</a> to Classrooms in 2015.

  2. This article, <em><a href=”http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/3990120″ rel=”nofollow”>Classrooms of 2015</em> by Clarence Fisher</a>, ties in with this thread.

  3. Anne,

    Excellent post, thank you for contributing to the dicussion.

    I agree with your points and would say that the programs you mention do an exceptional job preparing preservice teachers to integrate technology. The combination of technology, ID, and then actual integration would be an ideal model. The last part would serve as the “i can do this” aspect because students would actually get to do it. I also believe that getting students to believe that they “can do this” is a product of how they have been taught. If students have expereinced, not just watched videos of, teacher integrating technology it will supply them with a sense of “yes I can” and also stimulate a rich set of new ideas for how they can, and hoepfully will, teach.

  4. I’ve actually started my dissertation on this topic to see which technology integration programs allow K-12 teachers in the field to feel the most confident using technology and which courses seem to be most successful based on the teachers’ perceptions.

    One thing I’m discovering in my literature review is the vast amount of technology integration courses. At our University, the required educational technology course teaches the two main components of instructional design (lecture) and technology integration (lab). The students learn how to construct technology documents by completing activities (i.e., making a newsletter, making a lesson plan, making a grade book with Excel, making a tutorial using PowerPoint, making a WebQuest using FrontPage, etc…). Then once the students have learned the basics of these programs, we have them go through the instructional design process (a modified one using P.I.E. – planning, implementation, and evaluation) to construct each of the four projects using the different types of software. We also just have one lecture that is dedicated to showcasing the newest technologies and their potential uses in the classroom. We also dedicate another lecture to assistive technologies and use technology as a model (i.e., PodCasting lectures, posting lectures online through other forms of software such as Breeze and Impatica, using a course management system in the labs for students to keep track of materials, grades, etc…).

    There are so many different types of curriculum choices out there. I know that one University guides their students through a three-step process: (1) a technology skills course (teaching them the basic computer skills and introducing them to all the new toys), (2) a technology integration course (where they learn how to use the technology in education), and finally (3) a technology methods course (where they go into the schools and use the technology). Other schools have paired up a methods course (science/math/language arts/social studies) with a technology course so they can integrate the technology into their methods lessons to really get a feel for how to use technology in the classroom. Others have used technology training during student teaching to help engrain technology into an authentic sitation. Others use some form of PBL or Open-ended learning environment (many with software) to convey the importance of technology. The one thing I believe is the most important (suggested in many articles – Ertmer, 1999) is preservice really need to believe that technology enhances learning. Without this pedagogical belief, preservice teachers will not use the technology in effective ways once they do get to their classroom. I believe we still need to teach them the skills, but also have an effect on their pedagogical beliefs. I love showing my preservice teachers examples of great uses of technology. However, sometimes it’s difficult to find a model that provides the “I could do that” factor. Usually the example is an expert teacher who seamlessly integrates and manages technology in the classroom.

    The other thing we need to convey to our students is the importance of using technology to increase higher order thinking skills. Sure it’s great for a Jeopardy game, but what about having the students collect data with Excel to graph it and come up with an answer to why we have more pollution in our rivers as opposed to lakes? What are the results? This is the type of thinking that requires that pedagogical shift. What can we do to effectively teach our students this information? Any suggestions?

  5. Hi Everybody! Hi Dr. Nick [just kidding]

    seriously, I have read that Nate doesn’t expect that the technology courses will turn into methods courses then corrie says that we should be teaching them cog apprenticship, situated learning, etc. Well corrie that sounds like a methods course to me and I think that some “methods” course teachers might be upset if we removed all the tools from the course and started teaching instructional theories and how they can be acheived using this or that software. Furhter, is this even possible in a 3credit course or less given that that is about all most states requier in order to fill the “technology reguierement” in the curriculum.

    cliff then said via other sources that computers should be used to solve problems and produce solutions similar to what employees do on and for their jobs not just be a content deliverer. I agree with this point and that was one of my main arguements for using a commerical video/pc game in my dissertation, Civ III, because it went beyond the drill and practice games and edutainment so often used in schools. Muzzy Lane software has produced a similar history game and is using if for educational purposes at many US academic institutions. In this past edition of TechTrends [cliff nice work] Nick DeKanter discuss Muzzy Lanes’ game Making History is not about content delivery but that playing it with other students and teacher invigorates dialogue in the classroom. I read that as using good ol’ instructional design to effectively integrate the game. So we are again back to teaching methods in order to effectively integrate. In that same issue, Eric Klopfer and Susan Yoon discuss that using handhelds and well crafted authentic problems/projects is a sound way to use the technology so again a call for teaching methods to better integrate. But then I remember Dr. Rieber’s research on having students create their own games using Powerpoint and they learned a LOT. So this would suggests that a mix of both tools and methods is best. I guess we could go around and around like this forever, is one way better than the other which is optimal? sounds like a huge longitudinal study that needs to be done.

  6. Below are pieces of work by Gary Morrison and Deborah Lowther. This information comes from their NTeQ website and is also echoed in their book. I believe that this is a good citation as we begin to build our literature review.
    “Recent studies conducted by Dr. Steven M. Ross and the Center for Research in Educational Policy at the University of Memphis, involved observing instructional practices in over 8,000 elementary and 2,000 high school classrooms. The results of these studies revealed that computers were rarely used by K-12 students, and when they were used, the primary type of software was drill and practice and educational games. If we were to survey the students’ parents, we would probably find that they use spreadsheets to solve problems, manipulate databases to find patterns, send e-mail for communication, create reports with a word processor, and design multimedia presentations to sell their ideas at work. Individuals in the workplace are using computers as a tool while educators generally tend to think of computers as an instructional delivery device—something to replace the teacher, much like Skinner’s teaching machine. This observation is interesting because if we asked why computers are being placed in the schools, the primary reason is to prepare students for the workforce—where, as mentioned earlier, computers are used as a tool. Yet, we have failed to find a single job for a computer whiz that can blast space aliens similar to those found in computer games!” They go on to suggest that students should be “using computers as a tool to solve problems as part of the learning process.” (from NTeQ at http://www.nteq.com/preface.html)
    Another point that Morrison and Lowther make that I feel relates to this topic is getting the focus off of the technology and, instead, concentrating more on the integration – meaninig effective integration of technology through solid lesson planning/instructional development. Here are some bits from their work.
    “The type of computer you have does not matter. All your students need is access to integrated software such as AppleWorks, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Office, or individual applications for spreadsheets, databases, word processing, drawing, presentations, and Internet browsing. We have observed teachers who collected the older Apple //e computers that had the original AppleWorks program. They were able to provide almost every student in their classrooms with a computer that worked well with this approach…The software is not as important as learning how to use the tool in a productive manner to learn core content and skills. The type and capability of the software you use in your classroom will most likely change, and some programs will be replaced by more powerful software in a year or two. Because you and your students will know how to use word processing, databases, spreadsheets, and the Internet, the brand name and version will no longer matter.”

  7. What I have seen is that teachers are unwilling to change because they have not seen the need. These educators are not ‘academically rewarded’ for using the tech tools beyond the power point presentation. What does academically rewarded mean? Well it’s different for the different levels, right? For example, for a professor it might mean tenure, for a K-12 teacher it might mean increased pay or tenure or both. This is where training integration is across the board, the professors in higher ed collaborate to have one learning specialty integrated project that involve the integration of technology in projects due. The project is then graded with the different rubrics that for each specialty. just a thought.

  8. My greatest success in teaching kids software applications has been because I taught them ways to apply the software to an assignment, not just how to use the software. The issue is getting classroom teachers to come to your dorr and ask “How can I integrate this assignment with technology?”

    One sticking point for me is that teachers dont seem to see beyond PowerPoint as a technology integration tool. There are so many other options that are available within the Office Suite!

  9. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…

    When I last taught a methods course to preservice K-12 teachers (as opposed to my current work of consulting with in-service post-secondary faculty), the Apple IIe was the hot new machine. We taught word processing, database, spreadhseet, and God-help-us, BASIC programming.

    Two decades on, it seems that not much has changed. I keep seeing black-robed academics sitting in cloistered halls in 1505, saying, “So zis book of Gutenberg’s, it is here to stay, zo it zeems. Vhat do ve DO mit it?”

    Stop teaching the tools as tools. Start showing them used in action. Practice what we preach about congnitive apprenticeship and situated, authentic experiences.

    A carpenter doesn’t learn to use a hammer by taking Hammer 101. He learns to use a hammer by *building something,* then building something else, and something else, and along the way bending a couple hundred nails and smashing his thumb a dozen times.

    We’re all cobblers, and out children go barefoot.

  10. As Phil Harris once said in a different context, “The biggest difficulty in getting people to do something differently is in convincing them that what they’re doing now isn’t working.” (or something like that – sorry if I mis-quoted ya, Phil)

    The trick I’ve used in dealing with this “just tell me what I need to know” mentality is to start by making them tell ME what they think that is. That usually has enough “wtf?” factor in it to at least get them off balance long enough to think a little bit.

    I’m sure we ARE beating our heads against the wall. Until *we* turn the tech courses into methods courses, that won’t change. You certainly can’t expect that methods courses will start to incorporate tech … can you? 😉

  11. Nate,

    I read your post on durandus.com, and agree, but I have had in-service teachers that just want to learn the tools and when I did teach more along the lines of what you suggest, let’s just say that the focus of the class had to change back to the traditional “tools” learning, lest me head be bitten off : )

    On another note, I wonder if we are just banging our heads against a wall here trying to change the perception many have that edtech means av, now computer, equipment which perpetuates the development of seperate “teaching methods” courses (where you learn to teach) and “technology courses” (where you learn the tools) leaving the student to make the connections.

    Are there courses that you or anyone else reading this know of that teach both and the course is targeted to pre-service teachers?

  12. My answer was in http://www.durandus.com/blog/?p=101

    I think the key skill is really in helping them understand that technology is a moving target and that the incremental adoption of technology is really a small investment compared to what they’re using already.

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