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.