Saturday, March 19, 2011

Final Blog (3/19/11)

How has your opinion changed (or why has it stayed the same) over the past 11 weeks regarding technology integration?

I have always felt strongly about the importance of technology integration in the classroom.  The concept of being able to integrate technology has always been a part of my teaching experience and I have always seen it as important.  However, if you had asked me 11 weeks ago if technology integration was realistic and feasible in an average classroom, I would have said “not really”.  After taking this course, I still feel that technology integration is important and my opinions on how I feel about actually integrating technology into a classroom have changed for the better.
Over the past 11 weeks, my opinions on how realistic and doable integrating technology into the classroom actually is have greatly changed for the better.  I have realized that integrating technology into the classroom is not an impossible feat.  I now see how technology can be very accessible and manageable.  I also see that a classroom and school does not have to have all of the latest and greatest technology tools in order to still include technology in the classroom.  Integrating technology into the classroom does not have to be a daunting task and although it may take time, it is very possible.    
As I mentioned before, I have always thought that integrating technology is important, but before I would have said that it was important because it is fun and engaging for students.  While this is still true, I also see now how important integrating technology is in order to prepare students for the world we live in.  I now view technology in the classroom as more than just something “fun” to do.  I see it now as having a true, practical purpose for students and as being able to build and enforce lifelong skills that these students will need in a digital world.
Finally, this course has made me rethink what it actually means to integrate technology into the classroom.  Giving students access to any piece of technology that is available is great, but when a teacher can truly integrate technology into the classroom on a daily basis, they can provide students with more meaningful lessons that allow them to access more than just the teacher and the textbook.
Overall, I feel that my opinions have changed for the better and I am a lot more confident with the technology tools and programs that are available for classrooms and students.  I think that being able to integrate technology into my future classroom will make me a better teacher and will provide my students with new opportunities. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Literature Review #2 (3/12/11)

Equipping the Next Generation of Teachers: Technology Preparation and Practice
(see citation below)

This article focuses how to best provide valuable technology experiences and instruction to preservice teachers in teacher preparation programs.  The article begins by discussing how in today’s world, a major part of the teacher’s job is to create “…student-centered, technology-rich lessons…”, but obtaining the skills and knowledge needed to do this a huge task (Gronseth et al., 2010).  How to get technology training to teacher is difficult and although 100% of teacher preparation programs in the United States offer instruction on technology integration, research shows that there does not seem to be one approach that is completely effective when it comes to preparing preservice teachers to use technology in the classroom (Gronseth et al., 2010).  All of the teacher preparation programs are so different and all are using different approaches to train their teachers.  The article also mentions how there are many problems and limitations when trying to prepare teachers to use technology.  For example, it is difficult to maintain a level of authenticity in a teacher prep program and the technology tools necessary are not always available (Gronseth et al., 2010). 
The article mentions that much of the current research is focusing on what actual information and knowledge preservice teachers need during their program in regards to technology and how to effectively prepare them to use that knowledge in an actual classroom (Gronseth et al., 2010).  The study conducted in this article is part of a larger study aimed at studying the “various methods that teacher education institutions use to prepare teachers to use technology…” (Gronseth et al., 2010).  This particular study focuses on identifying and analyzing differences among teacher education programs with regards to their preparation in using technology (Gronseth et al., 2010).  Another goal of this study is to find an effective way to incorporate more successful technology experiences into teacher education programs (Gronseth et al., 2010).
In order to collect their data on this topic, the authors of the study sent out an online questionnaire to faculty members at certain colleges that have teacher certification programs.  Some of the findings include that many programs offer standalone technology courses and “…that field experiences that incorporate technology positively affect preservice teachers’ attitude toward technology.” (Gronseth et al., 2010).  This study also concluded that a way to most effectively prepare teachers for using technology in the classroom is for teacher preparation programs to provide multiple opportunities to practice with technology in an actual classroom (Gronseth et al., 2010).  This allows teachers to become familiar and comfortable with technology as well as work to overcome barriers that are presented.  Also, this creates an environment in which incorporating technology into engaging lessons becomes natural for teachers.  This study also found that the most effective teacher preparation programs used a lot of collaboration between teachers to help guide the integration of technology and keep up to date with current technology (Gronseth et al., 2010).  One area this study found where teacher preparation programs needs to improve is, “…experiences in using technology to support students with special needs.” (Gronseth et al., 2010).  Preservice teachers need experience with technology that special education students can utilize and benefit from.
Overall, this article was very positive about the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs and how they are preparing teachers to use and integrate technology into their lessons and classroom.  It is evident that when available, technology is being taught and used in the teacher preparation programs.          

I found this article interesting because being a certified teacher who recently graduated and is now perusing a Master’s, it really made me reflect on my teacher prep program and about how well they prepared me to use and integrate technology into the classroom.  I find that younger teachers I work with are more willing to incorporate technology into their classroom and lessons.  I also think this is an important topic because technology is very important in today’s world and teachers need be to be given the preparation and instruction on how to incorporate technology into their classrooms.  To me this also means providing current teachers with professional development courses in technology.  Teacher preparation programs need to be equipped to expose preservice teachers to technology and how it can be used in the classroom.  The only way in which we can get technology into the classroom is if the teachers feel comfortable to use it.  It is essential that teachers, especially young, preservice teachers, know how to incorporate and use technology in the classroom in order to prepare their students for the world we live in.      

Gronseth, S., Brush, T., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A., Strycker, J., …van Leusen, P. (2010). Equipping the next generation of teachers: technology preparation and practice. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27 (1), 30-36.