Thomas, J. (2002). What technology do tomorrow's science teachers need to know?
A response to Henriques. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 2(1). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss2/science/article2.cfm
...the few technologies that have had lasting impacts on the classroom include
such high-tech wizardry as the printed textbook, the chalk-board, and the overhead
projector. More complex technologiesfilm, radio, and television, never
realized their imagined potential in education....On the whole, glittering technology
has had little influence in the classroom (Kent & McNergney, 1999, p. 2).
In 1985, my superintendent was among the most reluctant when it came to introducing
new teaching technologies. He was about to retire, but he had been "around
the block" several times with new teaching ideas. I was a front-running
innovator with one of only a few district computers in my classrooman
Apple II. My fifth graders and I were learning Basic programming, creating Print
Shop graphics, and exploring sensors with toy robots. Once I learned we could
program robots on the computers (with LegoTC Logo), I wanted to assemble a computer
lab. Of course, I had to convince the superintendent, and he thought of classroom
computers as an expensive, new-fangled novelty. "You mark my words,"
he shook his finger at me, "Someday all these computers will be stacked
up in a storage closet with the overhead projectors." Well, we got our
laband now those Apple IIs are stored away, just as he predicted, but
newer computer models and other electronic teaching tools have taken their place.
We are in, after all, the Information Age. Now, as a science teacher educator,
I wonder about what technologies my future-teacher students need to know.
Henriques (2002) proposed a practical approach for introducing science teaching
technologiesarguing that students will learn better when teaching technologies
are infused into a science methods class. Citing a California credential-crunch
(and assuredly others are experiencing a similar urgency), she also alluded
to an important need to determine essential program requirements of students
on a fast track. Her ideas and suggestions for proficient use of software and
hardwarehigh budget and low budgetare well taken. Certainly the
spectrum of classroom technologies includes VCRs and overhead projectors (old
stuff), as well as probeware, and the Internet (new stuff). Henriques wants
her future-teacher students to see "technology seamlessly incorporated
into lessons" and to analyze effective and ineffective teaching strategies
These concerns are not specific to science teaching. The International Society
for Technology in Education and the National Council for the Accreditation of
Teacher Education have proposed standards focused on improved technology experiences
for preservice teachers and opportunities for university faculty to integrate
technology into their teaching and scholarship. Advances in the availability
and possibilities of educational technology in K-12 schools compel colleges
of education to review ways technology might be integrated into teacher preparation
programs (Pellegrino & Altman, 1997). However, many teachers graduate from
teacher preparation institutions with limited knowledge of the ways technology
might be used in the classroom (Brush, 1998). The Milken Exchange on Education
Technology (1999) suggested that student teachers may be initially resistant
but can become powerful advocates for the integration of technology throughout
the curriculum. While it may seem unrealistic to expect any teacher to exchange
newer technological models for traditional instructional models, many university
faculty members themselves have never observed others teach effectively using
information technology (Gilbert, 1996).
My own attempts at integrating technology in science methods instruction have
not been entirely successful. A mathematics education colleague and I have used
the Computer Anxiety Scale (Cohen & Waugh, 1989) to measure decreased anxiety
and improved understanding of the computer in terms of efficacy (to save time
and improve products) and communication (to keep in touch; Thomas & Cooper,
2000). In the same research effort, we learned how difficult it is to prepare
students for the specific technologies available in local schools. Many students
expressed frustration in their attempts to integrate technology in their field
teaching lessons (during four weeks of the
semester in an elementary classroom). Limited time spent in the building did
not allow adequate time for students to become comfortable with site-specific
software and generated undesirable lesson models (e.g., gathering two primary
classes for an Internet lesson in the library to follow district-imposed Internet
regulations). his same colleague and I have led our own college faculty in a
U.S. Department of Education Grant to Prepare Tomorrow's Teachers for Teaching
with Technology (PT3). We named our project TechLinks, hoping to connect university
faculty and classroom teachers in shared professional development and better
align our campus teaching with classroom possibilities in the local district
classrooms. Now in our third year, some faculty (though not all) have learned
new teaching skills and become increasingly confident about the possibilities
of modeling technology applications within their courses. We are still missing,
the link with our school partners, though they, too, have significant technology
infrastructures. We have learned to work side-by-sidebut we have not yet
found a way to work-forward-together. As Dede (1997) insisted, without simultaneous
innovations in pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and school organization, our
effort in instructional technology will bring few improvements in educational
outcomes. In our work of preparing teachers for tomorrow, we depend on cooperation
and collaboration with our local school districts in exploring and modeling
appropriate technology tools. Together we can help our students develop skill
in learning new technologies throughout their careers. This is just the beginning
of the 21st century, and you can be sure we will continue to move old stuff
into a closet down the hall
Mark my words.
Brush, T.A. (1998). Teaching preservice teachers to use technology in the classroom.
Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 6(4), 423-258.
Cohen, B.A., & Waugh, G.W. (1989). Assessing computer anxiety. Psychological
Reports, 65, 735-738.
Dede, C. (1997). Rethinking how to invest in technology. Educational Leadership,
55(3), 12 _ 16.
Gilbert, S.W. (1996). Making the most of a slow revolution. Change, 28(2),
Henriques, L. (2002). Preparing tomorrow's science teachers to use technology:
An example from the field. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher
Education [Online serial], 2(1). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss1/science/article1.cfm
Kent, T.W., & McNergney, R.F. (1999). Will technology really change
education? Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Milken Exchange on Education Technology. (1999). Reflecting and acting on
research and practice [Online]. Available: http://milkenexchange.org/research/iste_article.htm
Office of Technology Assessment (1995). Teachers and technologies: Making
the connection. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Pellegrino, J.W., & Altman, E.A. (1997). Information technology and teacher
preparation: Some critical issues and illustrative solutions. Peabody Journal
of Education, 72(1), 92-93.
Thomas, J.A., & Cooper, S.B. (2000). Teaching technology: A new opportunity
for pioneers in teacher education. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education,
Texas Tech University
College of Education
Lubbock, TX 79409-1071