Teaching with Technology: Facilitating the Process
Part 1: Strategies for adopting instructional technology
- By Ric Keaster, Leroy Metze, and Angela Hillegass
The presence of technology in the nation's schools is an expectation mentioned in policy statements from local school boards to such influential national initiatives as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The NCLB legislation emphasizes the importance of incorporating technology in all areas of P-12 education; it is not a matter of "if" P-12 schools teach the nation's students to use technology but "when," and the time is sooner than later. Likewise, instructors in colleges of education cannot teach prospective teachers to use technology unless the faculty, themselves, use technology in the college of education classrooms as a part of their instruction. There is something about "modeling" that goes a long way in education, regardless of the level of education under consideration.
Colleges and universities across the nation have realized that technology is an absolute when considering how courses on their campuses will be delivered--either face to face sessions, through distance learning sessions, or in mixed formats. Presidents and provosts, college deans, departmental chairs, and program directors have embraced the notion that using technology in their institutions' instruction is a "given"; at least it holds prominent positions in all of their strategic planning documents. New senior level positions (e.g., chief information officers, vice presidents for technology) have been created in relatively recent years to help oversee the development of the infrastructure for this instructional innovation. Likewise, faculty development centers have found a new realm of aid they can provide faculty to enhance their instructional efforts.
Teaching with technology involves two primary areas of new knowledge where faculty members need professional development: online instruction and face to face instruction.
The advent of distance learning in higher education has forced administrators and faculty to view the presentation of course content in entirely new ways and invest in technologies that will allow students to access instruction from sites other than the traditional campus classroom. The current text, however, deals with the latter of these two, the need to provide faculty not only with the technological tools for enhancing instruction, but also with the knowledge of how to best use these materials to maximize the time faculty spend with students in physical college and university classrooms. The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences (CEBS) at Western Kentucky University has been very successful in recent years in equipping faculty and classrooms with the latest technology available for instructional use as well as providing the necessary training to make sure that faculty can make the most of such investments. The Literature
Al-Bataineh and Brooks (2003), citing the International Society for Technology in Education, listed some of the common challenges being faced by university education instructors as follows: proactive leadership from the education system, educators properly skilled in the use of technology for learning, student-centered approaches to learning, assessment of the effectiveness of technology for learning, technical assistance for maintaining and using technology in the classroom, ongoing financial support for sustained technology use, and the policies and standards for new learning environments.
According to Al-Bataineh and Brooks, there is an increasing need for a critical evaluation of technology resources. Everyone involved in the education system, not just instructors, needs to become knowledgeable in the understanding and use of technology.
Moody and Kindel (2004) measured the extent to which the use of technology in the classroom influences student learning. The faculty survey focused on inefficient and ineffective methods of incorporating technology for instruction. Fitch (2004) explored the importance of instructors' seeking feedback from students on the use and effectiveness of using more technology-based classrooms. Traditionally, a limited number of students would have raised their hands, and only one student would have been called on to answer an instructor's question. Now, technology introduced into the classroom offers more instructor-class interaction through the use of keypads. Students individually enter responses into a keypad at their desks, allowing for multiple students to respond simultaneously, which in turn provides more feedback for the instructor and greater interaction between students and instructor.
Meletiou-Mavrotheris, Lee, and Fouladi (2007) conducted a study that compared the learning experiences of students from a technology-based college course with a group of students with non-technology-based instruction. The authors stated that using technology seems to have an impact on students' perceptions of the course, and students who have access to more technology in the classroom seem to enjoy the course more and have an increased appreciation for the subject matter. Not incorporating technology into the classroom leads to superficial and poorly interconnected knowledge. Sturgeon (2005) stated that faculty members implementing more technology in the classroom believe students have more opportunity to "freely participate, listen, and use critical thinking skills" (p. 69). This method of classroom instruction allows for a less superficial means of learning; students are not merely just taking notes during lecture. Whittington (1987) found that students who use distance educating technology perform better than students who use traditional face to face methods of learning.
Important also is the professional development of college and university faculty.
Lee and Busch (2005) stated that lack of adequate training for faculty is the greatest challenge keeping P-12 teachers from becoming involved with the use of technology in their classrooms. Successful teaching depends greatly on effectively integrating technology use into course design. If instructors receive adequate training and gain more experience with technological advances, perhaps they will feel more comfortable in using technology in the classroom and gain a much better appreciation for its effectiveness and advantages. Trentin (2006) also discussed the motives and conditions influencing the choices of faculty as they began using information and communication technology as well as the importance of training follow-up. The study additionally helped the administration have a better understanding of the typical misconceptions that lead teachers to use various methodologies, including those using technology.
Various models for the change process, especially where professional or staff development is concerned, recommend a sequence of steps that should be followed for making the innovation take root and endure as a practice. What CEBS has provided mirrors the following steps of one of those models (SEDL, 2006). Facilitating the Change Process
Step 1: Creating an Atmosphere and Culture for Change. CEBS, like most colleges of education, is guided by the dictates of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), an organization that early on realized the impact that technology would have on the education of the nation's children. In the early 1970s, the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) began working with NCATE to incorporate technology standards into their accreditation guidelines. Using NCATE as the external impetus for change, CEBS began working with its faculty to critically examine how technology should be used in their programs to facilitate instruction in their courses and to provide direct instruction on the use of technology for the professional education students. Considerable effort was made to use not only NCATE and other accreditation organizations as motivation, but also the administration encouraged departments to engage in discussions on their professional responsibilities concerning the preparation the best teacher candidates. Naturally, the incorporation of technology was a part of these discussions.
Step 2: Developing and Communicating the Vision. CEBS created Educational Technology, a division within the college, which is extremely visible (attached to the Dean's Office in the core of the building) and which employs several individuals, including a director and a full-time computer programmer. The director attends all Dean's Staff Council and Dean's Administrative Council meetings. In addition, the director has the responsibility of not only providing the vision for the college and all of its technology needs, but also communicating to college stakeholders what the world of technology holds for university (and P-12 school) instruction. This means staying very current in technology developments in general and staying up on the instructional use of technology. Faculty and department heads regularly consult the director before making purchases that run from thumb drives to laptops, even copy machines. Additionally, the director and computer programmer have been the driving force behind the development of the college's very own electronic portfolio system that has been used as models by several other colleges/universities. Having created the portfolio system allows considerable flexibility in not only the training of faculty concerning its use, it provides for remarkable adaptability for responding to faculty needs and input.
Step 3: Planning and Providing Resources. The college has made a commitment to providing the resources necessary for faculty and students to effectively use technology in instruction. This commitment officially began in 1992 when the dean of the college named a director of educational technology and assigned the director the task of creating a vision for the use of technology in instruction and a mandate to seek funding to implement the vision. Since then, the college has added another full-time position, two full-time temporary positions, seven graduate assistants, and two undergraduates to the staff of Educational Technology. The manager of the Educational Technology Center (ETC) is responsible for the day to day operations of the ETC and necessary programming for the college's Management Information, Accountability, and Electronic Portfolio systems. One full-time temporary staff is responsible for the maintenance and operation of classroom equipment, and the other provides assistance for Web pages and online courses. The graduate and undergraduate students provide front-line help, check out equipment, and staff the ETC.
In addition to the support provided by Educational Technology personnel, the college provides extensive hardware and software. Every classroom in the college is equipped with an LCD projector; a VCR; sound; and a lectern containing a computer with Internet and intranet connectivity, DVD drive, and appropriate software (Technology Assisted Classroom). At least half of the classrooms are also equipped with a document camera and electronic whiteboard or interactive panel and Bluetooth interactive panel (Multimedia Classroom). There are also two "smart classrooms" housed in the College's Educational Technology Center. These classrooms contain fully equipped student computers that can be viewed and/or controlled from the instructor's station. The instructor's lectern contains the same equipment as the multimedia classrooms and the necessary equipment to view, control and manage the student computers in the room.
Funding for the technology in the college has come from several sources. Personnel have been funded by reallocation of both faculty and staff positions to Educational Technology and by new funding from the University. Hardware and software have been funded by allocation of University classroom improvement, equipment, and operating budget dollars and by federal grant dollars. Each of these sources involved hard decisions about allocation of funds. While a majority of the administrators, faculty, and staff in the College now agree that reallocation of faculty and staff positions was beneficial, it was a tough choice to make. Allocating dollars from classroom improvement, equipment, and operating budget dollars to educational technology is also a difficult choice. And, as educators know, acquisition of federal grant dollars is no easy task.
This article will continue next week with additional steps for facilitating the change process, evidence of success, and caveats for adopting strategies for teaching with technology.
AECT (2001). Accreditation Standards for Programs in Educational Communications and Instructional Technology. An online text downloaded August 29, 2006 at www.aect-members.org/standards/partnerhistory.html
Al-Bataineh, A., & Brooks, L. (2003). Challenges, advantages, and disadvantages of instructional technology in the community college classroom. Community College Journal of Research and Practices, 27, 473-484.
Fitch, J. L. (2004). Student feedback in the college classroom: A technology solution. Educational Technology Research & Development, 52(1), 71-81.
Holland, P. E. (2001). Professional development in technology: Catalyst for school reform, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 9 (2), 245-67
Lee, J. A., & Busch, P. E. (2005). Factors related to instructors' willingness to participate in distance education. Journal of Educational Research, 99(2), 109-115.
Meletiou-Mavrotheris, M., Lee, C., & Fouladi, R. T. (2007). Introductory statistics, college student attitudes and knowledge: A qualitative analysis of the impact of technology-based instruction. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 38(1), 65-83.
Moody, J., & Kindel, T. (2004). Successes, failures and future steps. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 48(5), 44-49.
SEDL (Southwest Educational Development Laboratory), Austin, TX. Facilitative leadership: The imperative for change. An online text downloaded August 29, 2006 at www.sedl.org/change/facilitate/leaders.html#asixcomp.
Sturgeon, J. (2005). High-tech classrooms: IHE's continue to invest in AV/IT and networking technology for a myriad of reasons.
Whittington, N. (1987). Is instructional television educationally effective? A research review. The American Journal of Distance Education, 1, 47-57.