Preparing teachers for tomorrows
technology enhanced classrooms
Michael L. Connell, Ph.D.
College of Education
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204
A Few Thoughts On Educational
Technology and Change…
Students today can't prepare bark to calculate their
problems. They depend upon their slates which
are more expensive. What will they do when the
slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be
unable to write.
...Teachers Conference, 1703
Students today can't depend upon store bought
ink. They don't know how to make their own.
When they run out of ink, they will be unable to
write words or cipher until their next trip to the
settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern
...Rural American Teacher 1829
Ball point pens will be the ruin of education in our
country. Students use these devices and then
throw them away! The American virtues of thrift
and frugality are being discarded. Business and
banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.
...Federal Teacher, 1959
Calculators and computers will be the ruin of Math
education. Students will never learn math
concepts. How will they calculate when they
don't have their calculator with them.
...Many Teachers Today
Changes in Society
Society is rapidly changing from an industrial focus
emphasizing manufacturing to a highly
information-centered orientation. This change in
focus has created dramatic changes in the nature
of life and environment in the society we live in.
Harnisch, D. L. & Connell, M. L. (1991). An
introduction to educational information
technology. 3rd Edition. NEC Technical
College: Kawasaki, Japan.
Change is not a constant!
We have already seen dramatic changes in the
nature of life and society. Furthermore, changes
in an information-based society occur at a
continuously accelerating rate. 6000000
As information management tools become more
common in the work place, in school and at
home, the time that is spent in dealing with
information will become greater.
Furthermore, we are often at a loss to evaluate the
reliability and accuracy of the information we are
Drinking from the Fire Hose
Notice we haven't even mentioned the internet and
it’s implications for education yet!
It is often said that researching a topic on the
internet is like trying to drink from a fire hose –
you get more than you want, or can even handle,
but it certainly is what you need!
So now what?
How can we help prepare teachers to manage this
flood of information for effective teaching? And
what kind of teachers should we prepare?
Who will teach
in an Information-Based Society?
Some people still imagine a teacher-replacement scenario
when thinking of technology in the classroom. In this
view discussion concentrates on replacing teachers with
machines, and the perceived efficiency of teaching.
The Human Case
Such an approach comes from a basic misunderstanding
of the foundational role of teacher. In this simplified
perspective a teacher is viewed as a mere provider of
stimulus, evaluator of results, and guide to next stimulus
– in other words a human Skinner box.
Does this look familiar?
However, education involves human growth. Thus
the mere development of new information
sources and presentation schemes does not
immediately lead to improvements in wisdom -- or
We cannot limit ourselves to simplified models of
teaching which reproduce a Skinner box!
Expert Teachers in Technology
The role of the teacher, far from being replaced by
a simple instructional delivery system, is actually
more critical in a technologically enhanced
Are Enhanced As Well
The tremendous flow of information possible in a
technology enhanced classroom, coupled with
the immense modeling and tools which
technology enables, makes the role of teacher of
How should we teach in an
Clearly we must enable our teachers to become
not just skilled at using technological tools, but to
become skilled at knowledge creation, validation,
and enabling these same skills in others.
Teacher Competencies in an
A competent teacher is not only skilled in
observing students' behavior, analyzing student
data and evaluating student performance but also
is skilled in using technology to gather
information and prepare instructional materials,
present lessons, and obtain students' feedback.
A Guide to Information
A competent teacher serves as a guide to
information resources. The teacher must be able
to analyze new information and evaluate existing
information within the context of a meaningful
Problem Solving in an
A legitimate problem for investigation using a
computer might involve:
Identification and selection of what data to include in a
Identification of problem goals
selection of appropriate procedures and control
Verification of obtained results.
Thoughts on the Role of Teaching
The best environment for students is not created solely by
installing an expensive CAI system or by preparing fine
instructional materials. It can only be created by having a
pool of capable teachers.
Such teachers must be as comfortable with pedagogy as
they are with content. They must be as comfortable with
a student as they are with a computer mouse.
Student Skills in an
A primary objective of education in an information
society should be to enable students to:
receive information and respond to it intelligently,
create information that is considered to have high value
select and comprehend information required for creation
of new ideas,
communicate one's thought accurately and concisely
using appropriate representations.
We must ask the difficult questions concerning at what
point technology enters into educational efforts and the
affects upon desired educational values. If not, we run a
great risk of misapplication which could seriously
damage the educational enterprise.
On the other hand, when the goals, values and
assumptions of education - including a careful
examination of the role of the teacher - are carefully
considered the adoption of technology may well live up
to it's promise as a powerful educational tool.
Harnisch,D. L. & Connell, M. L. (1991). An introduction to
educational information technology. 3rd Edition. NEC Technical
Connell,M. L. (1997). AI or IA: The Choice is Yours! Educational
Technology Review, Summer(7), 27-29.