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Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education
 Sponsored by the Society for
Information Technology and Teacher Education

The Introductory Technology Course at Wake Forest University

Ann Cunningham

The purpose of the Technology in Education course is to prepare teacher leaders capable of designing and implementing high quality instruction that addresses the needs of diverse learner groups. This purpose recognizes that technology is vital in the ongoing process of high quality curriculum development. This 3 credit course is required for all preservice teachers.


Fit in Teacher Education Program Technology in Education is aligned with methods courses during the semester before student teaching (See tables on website http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/students2k.html).
Technology Tools Learned Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Publisher, Excel, Access, PhotoEditor, PowerPoint) digital cameras, Inspiration, Kidspiration, digital video recording, MovieMaker2, DreamweaverMX, laserdisc, interactive DVD, projection devices, SmartBoard, IBM ThinkPad (R40/R51)
  • Communicating/delivering information
  • Developing curriculum/creating teaching materials
  • Engaging students in learning and problem solving in ways that could not be done without the technology

Although issues of productivity and professional practice are integrated into course assignments, the primary focus of Technology in Education is to ensure that teacher candidates are able to integrate technology to support meaningful and relevant instructional and assessment activities. Each candidate is required to develop a website to showcase the products they develop during the course and throughout the preparation program (samples available at http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/students2k.html). The content of the website includes, but is not limited to: a newsletter designed to demonstrate the integration of technology and curriculum standards in the teacher candidate’s content area; a field experience plan that is directly related to curriculum standards; a collection of annotated web-based resources; a professional presentation that outlines a fictitious school’s technology plan; and an instructional design project that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to design content-specific instruction and assessment activities. Teacher candidates also use video-editing tools to create a video anchor for a problem-based learning unit as well as design instruction and assessment activities that incorporate interactive video.

Relevant Subject-Specific Technology Uses The scheduling of the content methods courses in the same semester as the Technology in Education course emphasizes the relationship between the content of the courses and creates opportunities for methodology and technology faculty to collaborate. The result is faculty working together to design meaningful activities built on sound theoretical and pedagogical principles that provide candidates with opportunities to develop their instructional design skills while demonstrating their ability to integrate technology appropriately.

A major goal of the Technology in Education course is to encourage the development of instructional design strategies that include technology integration at a level that requires students to synthesize, analyze, evaluate, and create. Technologies are framed as “tools and learning environments that have been adapted or developed to function as intellectual partners with the learner” (Jonassen, 2000). In an effort to foster this approach to technology use, all major assignments, most classroom activities, and the final exam are presented as problem or project-based learning situations. Modeling this method of instructional design becomes a strategy for communicating to the students that educational technology is a tool for changing teaching and learning.

The Authentic Task Approach
All major assignments are set in a realistic educational context a classroom teacher might experience such as a technology-enhanced unit of instruction, a technology committee responsibility, an Open House presentation, a school publication, or a PTA meeting. Students create responses that reflect their content-area background, technology skills, and creativity, in response to a scenario presented by the instructor. The intent is to immerse students in activities that require them to use technology as a tool to complete a realistic educational task. Through modeling and immersion, it is hoped that future teachers develop a level of familiarity and comfort with this type of instructional strategy that ultimately reveals itself in their instructional design. Course assignments can be found online at http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/edtech/portfolioprojects.htm.

Student Examples

Megan Constance, Elementary Education (undergraduate)
Website: http://www.wfu.edu/%7Econsmm1/
Technology Portfolio: http://www.wfu.edu/%7Econsmm1/portfolio/portfoliomain.html

Catherine Ringer, Secondary Education – Math (undergraduate)
Website: http://wwws.wfu.edu/%7Eringce1/
Technology Portfolio: http://wwws.wfu.edu/%7Eringce1/techportfolio.htm

Katherine Baird, Secondary Education – Foreign Language (graduate)
Website: http://www.wfu.edu/%7Ebairke4/
Technology Portfolio: http://www.wfu.edu/%7Ebairke4/techportfolio.htm
FL Advocacy: http://www.wfu.edu/%7Ebairke4/advocacy.htm

Connections to the Methods Courses Due to the scaffolding of meaningful and relevant technology experiences throughout the education programs and the intentional alignment of technology and methods courses, teacher candidates are able to practice their technology skill development while creating instruction and assessment activities that support their subject-specific content and grade level interests.

Restructuring in both secondary and elementary education programs aligned the methods and technology courses in the same semester. This program change created an opportunity for faculty to collaborate on instructional design projects that help candidates develop meaningful and relevant curriculum units demonstrating appropriate technology integration. These curriculum units, assessment strategies, web and software resources are all developed with an eye toward use in field experiences. The digital video project in the elementary program is one collaborative technology project in the science methods and technology course that is used in the fall field experience. Candidates design and create and video anchors aligned with state science standards which are implemented as engagement for interactive science lessons in the field. Teacher candidates frequently use their websites to provide resources, information, and activities for students and to communicate with students and parents. The result of intentional alignment of methods and technology experiences is the natural integration of technology into classroom instruction during the student teaching phase of teacher preparation. The scaffolding of these experiences is reinforced by the deliberate alignment of methods and technology courses, the collaboration between faculty on assignments, and the authentic task approach to the development of technology skills and dispositions.

Connections to Student Teaching Field experiences are integrated throughout preparation programs and build toward the student teaching semester (see http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/students2k.html). Efforts to increase the use of technology during field experiences and to integrate technology throughout teacher education programs have focused on access to hardware, program structure, and performance assessment. Changes in these areas have unified the approach to technology integration and increased the use of technology in field experiences. All undergraduates since the Class of 2000 and all graduates, beginning 2002-2003, are given an IBM ThinkPad, a standard load of software, space on a network server for publishing websites, and wireless connections to the campus network in dorms, classrooms, offices, and common areas. Students are also provided with a wide variety of technical support resources. In addition to university-wide online and in-person technical support, the Department of Education has specialized technology resources it makes available for student use. Candidates are able to check out digital camcorders, iBooks, laserdisc players, DVD-Video players, projection devices, and other A/V equipment to support their instruction in the field if these resources are not available at the school. Twenty-four hour access to the technology lab is available in the event that candidates need to use specialized hardware or software, and all candidates are supported by the university technical support HelpDesk. The effort to provide equipment and materials to candidates on campus and in the field will continue until the local school system is able to provide technology resources in all classrooms.
Course Syllabus

Course syllabi and schedules for each of the three sections of Technology in Education are available online at: http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/students2k.html

The following are direct links to pdf versions of the course syllabi:
EDU 307 Elementary Education http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/syllabussp05.pdf
EDU 307 Secondary Education http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/syllabus307fa04.pdf
EDU 607 Secondary Education http://www.wfu.edu/~cunninac/syllabus607fa04.pdf