I just returned from spending a few days listening and learning as I led a district through a comprehensive technology assessment. As part of the assessment, I facilitated several focus groups with teachers and administrators. In one of the focus groups two student teachers sat in with their supervising teachers. The teachers, in general, were frustrated with the lack of professional development available to them, as well as the lack of access to technology and timely tech support.
These veteran HS teachers were upset and talked passionately about how their students were being short changed because there wasn’t much technology available to them.
One pointed to the student teachers and said, “These young folks coming from college have been using technology as part of their learning all through their education. Our kids are going to be behind the eight ball when they get to college.”
Both student teachers smiled and nodded agreement.
I asked these unbelievably young looking student teachers how they used technology in their learning and they both had the same response…they used a Blackboard like system to access their assignments and course resources. They also used the system to submit homework and assignments. Occasionally; but rarely, they used the system to participate in a topic-based discussion forum.
I pressed a little further… did they have any courses that showed them how to use technology to teach their subject matter? Neither of them had had any course or training on using the technology with students. In fact, both were pretty much schooled in large lecture halls.
I have two daughters in college and this pretty much confirmed what they have been relaying to me about how they are being taught.
And therein lies the problem. Even the youngest teachers coming to our classrooms are unprepared to use technology in their teaching! They come straight out of the mold that produced the last generation of teachers.
In their defense, chances are they are less anxious about technology than their veteran counterparts. They may have more experience with Facebook and/or MySpace. They may IM with their eyes closed, and as these two student teachers mentioned; they may have some college experience with BlackBoard type classroom management tools.
That said, these student teachers (both from different colleges BTW), were not prepared to use technology in the process of teaching and learning. I have a feeling that they are not unique.
If this is so, then it is we who are left to do the expensive and time consuming “on the job” training…
Are these student teachers, taught in mostly traditional K-12 classrooms and then graduated to college lecture halls, part of the new wave of tech savvy educators that we hope will transform our schools?
Will they, and the many thousands of new teachers around the country, be any more receptive to employing new teaching pedagogies and teaching styles? Teaching styles that they may have never experienced as they moved through their k-16 education as students?
Are we holding out false hopes?