Improving Pre-Service EdTech Classes
I don't like to complain.
Well, I'll rephrase that. I don't like complaining when I know that I could possibly do something to make things better. That's why I'm experiencing my first love/hate relationship with one of my pre-service education classes: "Technological Applications in Education".
I knew before I took the course that I would be underwhelmed; I’ve been using computers and technology actively since the fourth grade, and obviously digital collaboration and learning is a passion of mine. I glanced over the textbook that was used in previous quarters and had to smile at the author’s amazement with this wonderful “word processor” and these newfound “weblogs”. I take for granted my natural ease around technology and quickly realized that not everyone in my class would take to the content as easily as I might.
I won’t complain about the instructor, because I understand that she has a curriculum put in place by the administration at Ohio University and is expected to meet certain standards for learning. I also won’t complain about the standards (NETS*T, if you’re wondering) because they do have the right goals in mind. The problem is, I’m not convinced that we’re doing enough to sufficiently meet those goals.
Yes, Microsoft Office has lots of products available to teachers in order to make their life easier. Sure, KidPix is great for introducing students to the idea of sharing and presenting their ideas. Of course, WebQuests are great for rallying students around a real-world task and giving them their first taste of the Internet as a tool for gathering information. But can an ed-tech class in 2010 really prepare future teachers if it doesn’t include some of the latest products and services that truly meet the NETS*T standards of digital age learning and collaboration? Where’s the lesson on Google Docs? Can’t we discuss the use of YouTube or WatchKnow in the classroom for supplementing lessons? Why is the lesson on creating a classroom website focusing on what the teacher wants to share with parents and school officials and not what the student creates?
So in the attempt to be collegiate and not at all hypocritical, I plan to turn in the typical course evaluation at the end of this quarter with a detailed list of suggestions I have for improving the course. I’m hoping that some of you will be able to provide me with your own suggestions for how you think pre-service teachers should be learning technological applications in education. For your reference, the NETS*T standards include:
1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
My suggestions? In no particular order:
Explore the use of Google Docs or related software that can provide teachers with an easy, affordable way to work together. Documents can be shared among a group of teachers and everyone can get a chance to add their own knowledge and experiences.
Look into the use of YouTube, WatchKnow, or even Academic Earth to supplement lessons with short, engaging video clips, as opposed to long, drawn out and outdated PBS VHS tapes.
Instruct teachers on how to promote and model life online. Our students are going to grow up on Facebook or related sites no matter how much we want them to, and we should know enough about privacy and safety online to properly teach our students. 6 weeks into the quarter and this hasn’t been addressed yet at all.
Promote the use of classroom websites as a tool for students to share their creations with the world, not a place to post random links to educational websites and an events calendar. Show teachers the benefits of blogging about classroom activities and discuss the possibility of student blogging.
Introduce teachers to the use of Twitter or Ning to connect with and learn from other teachers and educators worldwide. This is really the one I would love to see added to the course more than anything else, but it’s also the one that I just don’t see anyone embracing.
Now it’s your turn: what are some of the things you would like to see added to a pre-service course on technology in the classroom?