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Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Volume 5, Number 1 1997

 

Articles

Lights, Camera, Action! The Trials and Triumphs of Using Technology in the Classroom
Karen Norum

Project E.L.I.T.E.: A Case Study Report of Elementary Teachers' Perspectives on a Social Studies Computer Pilot Project
Susan Gibson and Susan Hart

Teachers' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Windows on Science as a Science Curriculum Teaching Tool
Robert Ferguson, Lee Holcombe, Kelly Scrivner, Suzanne Splawn, Viktoria Svan, and Sally Blake

Preservice Teachers and Middle School Students: Interaction Using Computer Networks and Interactive Television to Create Virtual Field Experiences
Gayle Allen

From Sages to Guides: A Professional Development Study
Lauren Cifuentes

Training Adults in Computers: A Case Study of Egyptian Professional Educators
Carla Meskill and Jose Melendez

 

Abstracts

Lights, Camera, Action! The Trials and Triumphs of Using Technology in the Classroom

KAREN NORUM
University of Colorado at Denver
Campus Box 106, P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA

This study is written in the format of a nonfictional educational story. It is a story about what it is like to teach when relying on technology to communicate your message to your students. Although this is a story about unique challenges faced by distance educators, it is also a story about common problems encountered when using technology in the classroom. The experiences of two foreign language distance educators are shared. Broadcasts of each teacher’s class were observed and each teacher was interviewed. Their trials and triumphs in using technology and the actual experience of what it is like to teach this way provide insights into how teachers use technology in the classroom. The two teachers are placed within Polin’s (1992) four stages in the adoption and integration of technology into the classroom. The author suggests that more qualitative research is needed in this area, particularly stories of teachers’ experiences with using technology in the classroom.

Project E.L.I.T.E: A Case Study Report of Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives on a Social StudiesComputer Pilot Project

SUSAN GIBSON and SUSAN HART
University of Alberta, Department of Elementary Education
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G5, Canada

This report highlights the experiences of three Canadian elementary school teachers involved in a 5-month computer technology pilot called Project E.L.I.T.E. All three teachers were from the same school and had equal access to the technology provided through this pilot. The focus of the computer project was the Grade 5 social studies curriculum, specifically Canada’s regions, history, and people. All three participants had taught the Grade 5 curriculum. They had preferred ways of approaching it and clear ideas about the important content they wanted their students to learn. One of the three had substantial experience with technology prior to being involved in the pilot, whereas the other two believed their entering technological skill was underdeveloped.

Each of the three teacher participants had unique experiences with the technology throughout the pilot period; however, they all tended to use it in similar ways to address the social studies curriculum. The most common uses were to have the children locate information and answer questions on worksheets, do research for reports, and view videos. The teachers were just beginning to work with the children on preparing and presenting multimedia reports when the project ended.

There are several points about the use of computer technology in the classroom that arise from the teachers’ stories provided in this report. On the one hand, the teachers noted several successes resulting from their involvement in this pilot. They generally believed they had finished the project with more technological skill than what they had when they began. They also could see more possibilities for the use of technology in their teaching of social studies, particularly in the preparation and presentation of multimedia reports. For the most part, they concurred that the children enjoyed their work with the pilot materials and came away with more and better developed computer skills.

Conversely, there were some commonly experienced frustrations. One, which has been noted in other studies, is that coming to understand how to best use technology in teaching is not something that can happen quickly. One of the greatest concerns for these three teachers was that they were not informed enough about the capabilities of the technology prior to using it with their classes and thus were forced to learn what they could at the last minute.

In addition to not knowing ahead of time what the computer program entailed, a second frustration for the three pilot teachers was that the materials they were eventually provided did not closely match the required curriculum nor were they sufficiently detailed.

A final point for consideration arising from this report is that while some children and teachers experienced a great deal of success with the technology, others did not. It remains, therefore, just another way to teach social studies, an alternative that needs to be blended with other varied approaches.

Teachers' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Windows on Science as a Science Curriculum Teaching Tool

ROBERT FERGUSON, LEE HOLCOMBE, KELLY SCRIVNER, SUZANNE SPLAWN, VIKTORIA SVAN, and SALLY BLAKE
Teacher Education
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, TX 79968-0574, USA

Technology in education presents new challenges to education if it is to be used beneficially. In the El Paso, Texas area school districts, Windows on Science has been used as the science curriculum in Grades 1 through 6. Windows on Science is a laser disc-based program in which content is delivered through video. Surveys were distributed to teachers (n=203) in two of the area districts to determine teachers attitudes and perceptions of the effectiveness of Windows on Science. Results indicate that if used as the sole curriculum, teachers perceive Windows on Science as ineffective. However, if used in conjunction with discovery-based, hands-on activities, teachers consider it an effective supplement. In regards to the training for the use of Windows on Science, teacher responses were inconclusive.

Preservice Teachers and Middle School Students: Interaction Using Computer Networks and Interactive Television to Create Virtual Field Experiences

GAYLE ALLEN
Iowa State University
N103 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA

This research study examined the attitude of preservice teachers toward using technology to interact with eighth-grade students. The communication between the two classes was achieved using Internet, America Online, and distance education classrooms at Iowa State University and Hawkeye Community College. The sample population was 29 middle school students and 28 preservice teacher education students at Iowa State. The main objective of this study was to determine how the virtual field experience would affect the preservice teachers’ attitude toward middle school students and how the preservice teachers would use available technology. To measure the results of this experience, three findings were used: (a) a questionnaire to measure the preservice teachers’ knowledge of middle school students’ reading interests and writing abilities, (b) on-line communications (email) to evaluate the preservice teachers’ awareness of the literacy skills of eighth-grade students, and (c) response papers to analyze perceived effect of the experience. The findings suggest preservice teachers can benefit from virtual experiences with students when there is focused activity, such as an emphasis on the reading and writing skills, and when there is time for reflection and guidance by the college instructor.

From Sages to Guides: A Professional Development Study

LAUREN CIFUENTES
Department of Educational Curriculum and Instruction
College of Education, Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4232, USA

The introductory educational technology course for preservice teachers at Texas A&M University focuses on helping preservice teachers change their visions of themselves-from disseminators of information to facilitators of learning. The constructivist model for professional development employed in the course includes five technology-infused techniques to facilitate expansion of preservice teachers’ methods beyond lecture: (a) diversification of modeled teaching methods; (b) exposure to change theory as it applies to technology integration and school restructuring; (c) design of student-centered, interdisciplinary units; (d) projects-based learning; and (e) meetings with master school teachers who describe and demonstrate effective teaching methods and formatively evaluate materials. This study was designed to examine teachers’ transformations from "sages on the stage to guides on the side" (Barker, 1992) as a result of exposure to the experiences described in the technology professional development model. Findings expose a gap between the methods preservice teachers envision themselves using and the methods that successful master teachers use. However, implementation of the model for technology professional development did significantly close the gap between inservice and preservice teachers’ choices of methods.

Training Adults in Computers: A Case Study of Egyptian Professional Educators

CARLA MESKILL and JOSE MELENDEZ
University at Albany, State University of New York
Albany, NY 12222, USA

Training older adults to use computers represents a special set of constraints: anxiety, confidence, liking, and perceptions regarding their utility being the greatest. This study examined the computer training experiences of professional educators from Egypt-a country where cultural, societal, and professional structures impose an additional layer of constraining factors on learning computers. Nineteen upper-level inspectors of English for the Egyptian Ministry of Education, between 45 and 57 years of age, participated in a 5-week instructional sequence in computer basics and word processing. Data pertaining to attitudes and motivation were collected from participants through questionnaires and interviews prior to and at the conclusion of the training sequence. In addition, a detailed ethnographic study of the day-to-day instructional experiences and teacher-participant interactions during the course of their learning was also undertaken. Results indicate that (a) confidence with and liking of the computer increased significantly, and (b) specific patterns of teacher-participant interaction predominated throughout the training. Proposing that these patterns of interaction were possibly affecting this substantial change in attitudes and perceptions, we returned to participants and their instructors to confirm. Indeed, participants and their teachers affirmed that the training had been successful due to its humanistic dimension. Support and encouragement in the way of consistent and effective interpersonal interaction were deemed the essential elements. This notion can be extended to other adult computer learning situations where age and cultural/societal norms may potentially operate against successful learning.


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