Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do They Know More?

OK... While I'm not ready to admit being "long of tooth" yet, I have started to notice that I am not among the young people at staff meetings, training sessions or other gatherings of educators anymore.

Today, Jon Larson, the ECMECC technology integration specialist was lamenting the number of times he had heard phrases to the effect that all of the new teachers are going to come to us with plenty of skills using (fill in the blank with a current technology.) Neither of us are convinced that is true. While the young folks may have more experience USING certain technologies, I don't believe they know much more about using the technologies to TEACH than those of us who have been in the profession for some time.

Ten years ago, I was working on a project at the University of Minnesota designed to transform the way pre-service teachers learned about using technology in the classroom. It was a bit painful trying to change the culture of having one class in the program that taught every education student how to use a half-dozen computer applications to an integrated approach to using technology as a tool for teaching and learning. That said, I think we managed to improve the program over three years.

So... I did some very quick and non-scientific research on some current teacher education programs around the state, checking course descriptions and requirements. I was disappointed to see that, in many cases, there were very few mentions of technology in course titles or descriptions. In fact, in most cases (perhaps the "U" being an exception), the list of requirements looked strikingly similar to my own course of study twenty years ago. I can only hope that technology is so integrated into the programs that it doesn't show up in titles and descriptions. After all, that is what we often say we want to accomplish in K-12, technology integration. I know that we are still far from that in our schools, so I fear that Academia may be even further behind.

I plan to do some additional research on this issue and I will report what I find here. I welcome any comments and responses. If you know of a teacher education program that is doing a great job preparing our teachers to use technology in the classroom, let us know. If you are a new teacher and want to describe your teacher education program, I'd love to hear about it. I hope I am completely wrong about what is going on. Clearly, it is easy to lose touch with issues that you've been away from for many years. For me, this is one issue that I need to reacquaint myself with as I work to make my organization more focused on technology professional development and integration.