Thursday, June 3, 2010

Common Misconception #2 - New Teachers and Technology

Yesterday I wrote about the common misconception that Integrating Technology into Education is the Answer to Improving Test Scores.  I was very pleased with my initial post in my series about the Common Misconceptions about Integrating Technology in Education.  Today, we take a different approach.  This has been something I have heard not just while working as a Technology Integration Specialist, but also as a young teacher.

Common Misconception #2 - New Teachers Have a Better Understanding of How to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

There is a trend out there by teachers, administrators, and districts that assumes that younger/newer teachers have a better understanding of technology and how to integrate it into the classroom.  Sure, younger/newer teachers MIGHT have a better understanding of technology (such as hooking up equipment, using Word, Power Point and Excel), but as far as INTEGRATING it into the classroom, that most likely, in most districts, is not true.

I am just 7 years removed from finishing my college degree and earning my teaching certificate.  Most of the resources and equipment that we are implementing in schools today did not exist.  I had ONE class in college where I learned how to use Power Point, Word, and Excel.  Me personally, I forced myself to play around with and learn more than those once I started teaching. 

The problem is that most education programs in college DO NOT teach students how to use Smart Boards, Airliners, Documents Cameras, Clicker Systems, FLIP and Digital Cameras; oh, and Web 2.0 as well.  It is ASSUMED they know how, or because they are younger they will learn it on there own.  That is not true for many new teachers out there.  Not only do teachers not learn about this technology, they don't learn ways to use it with their students.

College students in their undergraduate education courses NEED a "Technology Integration in Education" course, and maybe more than one.  I know that there are more Master's programs available today, but that is AFTER being in the classroom.  Is it just me, or does it seem that is doing things backwards?  Technology Integration is part of New Teacher Standards, so shouldn't there be classes about how to integrate technology?  It seems that Appalachian State University and Kansas State University are on the right track.  Are other universities following suit?  Do you know of some, link to them in the comments section.

I am going to throw out a number, 20%.  That is the number of new teachers that I think enter the education workforce with knowledge about many of the tools mentioned above as well as Web 2.0 resources.  Most however do not have knowledge of ways to integrate them into the classroom.  Knowing what they are does give them an advantage, but I think we are still 5-10 years away from new teachers having an understanding of the tools and how to integrate them in the classroom.

State and Local Districts are pouring tons of $$$$ into technology in schools, and often, that technology sits in classrooms and collects dust because new and current teachers have not had training on how to use the tools because it takes a back seat to other Professional Development and curriculum.  Maybe it is just me, but isn't it about time that we FOCUS MORE on how to MERGE curriculum and technology resources together?

At the same time you have tons of school districts across the country that are BLOCKING access to Web 2.0 tools, therefore never providing new teachers an opportunity to use them and learn how to integrate them in the classroom, which would definitely be one way to help to alleviate this common misconception.

It is important for current educators to not ASSUME that new teachers have a foundation on integrating technology.  You will find that most new teachers that "help" current teachers are actually learning it as they go, not necessarily that they had previous knowledge.  When I was asked to help as a "new" teacher, I was learning it as I went.  In a way I was adding to the common misconception that I knew how to use technology.  I didn't; I learned on the fly.

What about your school building?  Do experienced teachers assume new teachers know about technology and how to use it?

Need some more information, here are some studies I came across that discusses some aspects of this Common Misconception:
1.) Can Teacher Technology Integration Training Alone Lead to High Levels of Technology Integration? A Qualitative Look at Teachers’ Technology Integration after State Mandated Technology Training

2.) Integrating Digital Learning Objects in the Classroom: A Need for Educational Leadership

3.) Technology Mentor Fellowship Program: A Technology Integration Professional Development Model for Classroom Teachers.


  1. Integrating technology well into teaching involves many aspects. Not only are new teachers not being taught to use tech, they generally have not yet become content experts for what they are teaching. To integrate tech well, you must know your content, know your students and know the technology. That takes time.

  2. I am a middle school teacher who moonlights as a educational technology professor at Creighton University in Nebraska. It is alarming how much undergrads 'and' professors don't know about technology and the tools available. During the regular school year I teach a 1 credit version of the class to undergrads and during the summer I teach a 3 credit version to graduate students. We cover many of the things you discuss that are absent from many teacher training programs. The 3 credit version is way better than the 1 credit version because we can spend a lot more time with different apps and everyone in the class gets to teach a tech-infused lesson to the class. I make a point to bring in my own students to help teach a lesson or two during each course also. I always post the entire course on a wiki, though it is not substitute for being in class. Here is a link to one of the lessons where I brought in my students

  3. I totally agree, this is a HUGE misconception and adds to the problem that schools are facing. If administrators assume that because a teacher is young that they know and use technology, it is no wonder that our schools look the way they do. I, too am 7 years removed. I took one class and it was a basic use of Microsoft Office class. I am tech savvy because I choose to be. I choose to continue learning. I like technology and its constant state of change. The constant change means that I am forced to be in a constant state of learning.
    Likewise, I have met many tech savvy educators who are not young. If we want technology rich schools with savvy teachers, the expectation has to be set early. Several classes in college are good but it needs to be an ongoing expectation.

  4. I hear this all the time as well, and often will respond that they definitely are digital natives- but in order to truly integrate technology they need the best teaching practice and pedagogy that supports good learning. Yes, they know how to sync their ipod, and are digitally connected to their friends and family- but do they know how to have their students show evidence of learning by creating an authentic project using technology like creating podcasts, or a digital story, or collaborating on a wiki?
    I work with new teachers and they are certainly eager to use technology, but often have reservations because they lack the experience with designing lessons and projects. As technology support staff we need to support the whole process, from the start (planning) to the finish (a successful, engaging project based assessment).
    thanks for your series- I'm enjoying reading it.

  5. I think a good place to start would be to have professors show by example. Integrating technology should be a part of the course work at the university level as well. If you're using wikis, blogs and various presentation tools to complete assignments while you are learning to become an educator, aren't you more likely to naturally integrate them into your curriculum planning in the future? Won't you have first hand experience with how students can share their knowledge and mastery of content using a variety of Web 2.0 tools?

    We're getting closer and closer to those "digital natives" graduating with degrees in education, but that does not mean that they will somehow intuitively know how to plan curriculum using technology. If we know our students learn best by participating actively, collaborating and problem solving, shouldn't we be expecting the same level of instruction at the university level?

  6. The first thing we have to decide is exactly what technology integration is. I've seen teachers use PowerPoint to teach the same way they always have. A lecture is a lecture - whether delivered orally or via PowerPoint. Using the "toys" is the easy part. It's the teaching, not the technology which should always remain the important thing. If you look at integration within those parameters, then students fresh out of college will be more ready to use the technology because it fits in with a more constructivist, student centered type of teaching.

  7. Thanks for the post anonymous. If you read my first misconception, I discussed the whole "it is the teacher, not the technology" that makes a difference in effectiveness.

    Very good points.