Preparing teachers for tomorrows technology enhanced classrooms Michael L. Connell, Ph.D. 344 FAH College of Education University of Houston Houston, TX 77204 MKahnl@aol.com 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 times. ...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 5000000 4000000 3000000 2000000 1000000 0 1 6 11 16 21 26 31 36 41 46 51 56 61 66 71 76 81 86 91 96 101 106 111 116 121 126 131 136 141 146 151 156 161 166 171 Information Overload 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 buried under. 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? Teaching Thinking 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 pedagogical methods. We cannot limit ourselves to simplified models of teaching which reproduce a Skinner box! Expert Teachers in Technology Enhanced Classrooms The role of the teacher, far from being replaced by a simple instructional delivery system, is actually more critical in a technologically enhanced classroom. Teachers Roles 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 critical importance. How should we teach in an information society? 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 Information Society 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 setting. Problem Solving in an Information Society. A legitimate problem for investigation using a computer might involve: Identification and selection of what data to include in a problem Identification of problem goals selection of appropriate procedures and control statements 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 Information Society 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 by others, select and comprehend information required for creation of new ideas, communicate one's thought accurately and concisely using appropriate representations. Closing Thoughts 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. References Harnisch,D. L. & Connell, M. L. (1991). An introduction to educational information technology. 3rd Edition. NEC Technical College:Kawasaki, Japan. Connell,M. L. (1997). AI or IA: The Choice is Yours! Educational Technology Review, Summer(7), 27-29.
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