George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Preservice Technology Field Experience: A Call for Suggestions

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Many people believe that a high-quality teacher-education program must include field experience for teacher candidates in all education courses. Organizations such as the National Network for Educational Renewal and the Association of Teacher Educators strongly support this concept.

I teach a required technology course designed for extending teacher candidates' technology skills, modeling classroom technology use, and providing a sense of how technology can be utilized to support effective student learning. The course is paperless, requiring students to employ the computer for all course activities. All assignments are submitted electronically, then scored using online rubrics and an online feedback system.

One student sitting in front of a computer as six stand around him listening

The field experience for this class has been problematic. Originally, we just took students to our partner schools and asked the principals to put them in a classroom for a couple hours to observe good teaching. The difficulty was that it was rare for a student to actually observe a teacher using technology. When you pick a day and everyone goes to the school at once, you have no control over what the students will see. A few might happen to be in a classroom where technology is being used, but most of the time, they don't see it.

It is hard for us to convince students that they need to have technology skills when they don't experience much of it in their education and they don't see it being modeled during their field experience. The result is teacher candidates who do not have a good concept of what it is to be an effective technology-using teacher.

The next thing we tried was to find teachers who we knew were using technology or who were interested in using technology and to have students develop materials for teachers to use in their classrooms, including a PowerPoint presentation and a Web-based lesson plan on teacher-requested topics. The most difficult part of this system, however, is communication between teachers and students: Students are not always responsible and timely in contacting teachers, and teachers don't always regularly read and respond to students' email.

Now, we just ask teachers to tell us the topics on which our students should develop their materials. At the end of the semester, we burn all the projects on CDs and send copies out to all our consulting teachers. The big drawback here is that little interaction occurs between practicing teachers and teacher candidates.

My questions are, "What is the best way to conduct a technology field experience for preservice teachers? Does anyone have a model that works for them? Do you have an idea that might be more effective than what we have already tried?"

Our limitations are that the class meets for two seventy-five-minute periods each week. We are in a rural area, where it takes up to forty-five minutes to drive to some of our partner schools. Our experience must utilize technology to facilitate the teacher-student interaction.

Please offer your suggestions and feedback.

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Jeffrey's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Can the students view some of the technology use online?

Can someone talk to the principals at those schools and ask what is wrong? If that few teachers are using technology, then there will be a lot of students ill-prepared for the real world outside school.

Maybe the tech students themselves can just teach whole lessons - ask the teachers what units/themes/standards are coming up, and let them teach a lesson, maybe in pairs. You as the instructor help them build the lesson, critique it, try it out in class, then go out into the field and just do it themselves. Maybe the real classroom teachers need to see the modeling instead of the other way around?

Erica Whiteman's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have just graduated with my Bachelors in Elementary Education from the USF in Tampa and was part of the Apple Laptop Initiative. My training was dedicated to the integration of technology throughout the curricula. They have a great resource for online viewing of technology in K -12 classrooms!

Good Luck!

Erica Whiteman

Vicki's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

We too have the problem of preservice teachers not always seeing good or even any use of technology in the classrooms in our area. Our students were finding themselves being the technology leaders when they went into the field. Many did not have the self-confidence to fulfill this role. That being the case the education professors plan the projects well in advance, the preservice teachers work with their teachers/schools to plan projects they will use in the classroom to fit in with the cooperating teacher's plans for the year. We use the technology class time to train the preservice teachers in the use of the necessary technologies and equipment to meet these classroom needs. If a new need becomes apparent, we adapt or change to meet the changing needs.

As an example, one assignment was to create a PowerPoint or web based tutorial to teach something to their students this year. One preservice teacher had a request from his cooperating teacher to create a tutorial on how 2nd graders would be using Excel to track and input weather data to eventually create graphs and charts. The resulting PowerPoint tutorial was a great success as a class presentation and then a review tool as needed throughout the weather tracking project.

Another preservice teacher needed to teach her 1st graders how to use child safe search tools and how to navigate through the search results. As over 50% of her class was below reading level or ESL, she not only created a very in-depth visual tutorial using screen shots and the PowerPoint drawing tools to highlight, circle and point to the important items on the screen, but she also added audio clips that were a direct reading of the text. Her below level readers and ESL students were highly successful in completing their searches using this tool.

This type of cooperation between pre-service teachers, cooperating teacher, supervising teachers and college professors can be a great way to benefit all in bringing technology into use in new and innovative ways that ultimately brings better learning tools to the students.

One student teacher shared that the assigned WebQuest she created and taught to her 4th grade class resulted in the best writing/art projects her students had ever produced. The students were so excited by the web based research, the choices they were able to make independently and were challenged by the group projects that they produced something far beyond what anyone expected of them. Isn't that the outcome we'd always like to see?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I would like to encourage you to continue the effort to connect your students with teachers using technology. I would also encourage you to add library media teachers to your contact base. Library media teachers are using technology and can also help connect preservice teachers to classroom teachers who are using technology. The role of the LMT is being left out of much of teacher education curriculum today, but we LMTs are often using technology to teach students and teachers the lastest and best ways to find and use information.

I would also like to encourage you and your teachers to improve their electronic communication skills. We use email, electronic calendars, webpages, and blogs so much in my district, and it makes for a smooth, timely and seamless way to connect with teachers, students, parents and all members of the education commmunity. I would think it would enhance communication to a great degree in a district that is spread out in a rural area. Teachers and preservice teachers need to be encouraged to use it promptly and efficiently to keep everyone up to date.

Just my thoughts.
Janet HasBrouck, Librarian
Arcadia High School, Arcadia CA

Brian Seltmann's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

One thing we did in our area was bring the students to the pre-service teachers. A group of students went to the university and did a presentation about robotics. The teachers were able to ask questions and get instant feedback to their tech integration ideas, plans and questions. It was a huge success, both for the students and the pre-service teachers.

Beth Klein's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Like the first comment, we also bring elementary students to the college and have our elementary preservice teachers work them in small groups. We always include a technology component. This past semester the students worked with sixth graders to develop enhanced podcasts, PowerPoints and Web pages that highlighted the sixth grade students' experiences at the college. This was then posted on a website for the sixth graders to share with their parents.

My students also worked with students in a rural district using BlackBoard, Podcasting, and email to assign work, receive and grade work. This gave them experience with using technology to teach elementary students in an online environment.

Beth Klein, Associate Professor
SUNY Cortland
Cortland, NY

Dr. Pat McDiarmid's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

One of the BEST ways I have found to accomplish this is to model the practices myself when I am teaching the pre-service educators.

Also, many of the micro-teaching episodes I require MUST have a technology component to them as well.

When I set-up initial field-based experiences with these emerging educators we bring the technology wiht us when we go to those classrooms as many schools simply do not have those resources and the college does. This set-up is a win-win for both parties.

I hope this helps.

Alix E. Peshette's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I would like to suggest that there are two components to using technology in the classroom. Besides the curriculum aspect; incorporating technology into the classroom is an activity-based experience. It involves equipment, protocols and good classroom management. Science teachers, art teachers and computer lab teachers are all folks who have experience with activity-based instruction. Pre-service teachers can learn a lot by watching how these teachers manage students, equipment, time and instruction. Just food for thought.

Alix Peshette
Technology Training Specialist
Davis Joint Unified School District
Davis, CA

Bill Dunsay's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Students need to be placed in classrooms such as mine that have 1 to 1 computing. We are a 2nd grade laptop classroom and my students use their laptops for creative writing, reports, practicing skills, sending email, creating PowerPoint presentations and currently creating non-fiction books for the kindergarten. They search the Internet for images and and think of using their laptops as the first source for finding information.

Many classrooms have one computer so how could visitors see much happening unless they accompanied a class to a lab. My kind of program is expanding across the nation but is still very limited. More time needs to pass but perhaps particular schools could be helped to invest in technology in so that students on their way to the profession would consistently be able to obsrve.

Tina Boles's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Would there be an oportunity for your supervising princial to include you on the school's computer or Smart Board lab sign up sheets, so you could be aware of the various technology rich lessons that would be going on the day you were there? Also have a teacher at that school work as a liason to form a core group of teachers who regularly use technology in their lessons, maybe even on a daily basis. This would enable the students of the education program to have yet another mentor in the schools.

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