Integrating Technology Into the Curriculum: Teacher Training

Copyright 1996 Miguel Guhlin
"Technology has altered the basics of education. Only by applying technology, can teachers have the power to create, customize, or modify the learning environment demanded by the new basics and information needs of learners� in the 21st Century "(See, 1994). The trick is to do today what will be needed tomorrow. Education has been woefully behind for various reasons, although not because we have lacked complete access to technology. Among these reasons is lack of comprehensive staff development for teachers. In a time when teachers are trained by lectures on inservices, other ways of educating our teachers exist.
Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to facilitate the integration of technology into the curriculum at the district and campus level. It is a difficult process that must begin with the teachers. Let me repeat that. The process of integrating technology into the curriculum must begin with teachers. On each campus I have visited and worked on, technology must be integrated one classroom at a time, each teacher shown how to use the tools of tomorrow one day at a time. Twenty hours later of hands-on instructional technology staff development, twenty more hours of in classroom modelling and feedback, technology is beginning to be integrated into the curriculum. As teachers begin to use Kid Pix 2 to make multimedia slide shows with their students, their focus changed from teaching knowledge to facilitating the learning process. Teachers also tended to assist students in organizing and presenting that information. This move from knowledge-givers to learning facilitators is supported by the following study about teachers identified as high-level implementors used technology within a process-oriented approach to enable students to reach well-defined curricular objectives (Wiburg, 1994). Research also demonstrates that teaching with technology does influence teaching style toward an increasingly student-centered and active learning orientation (Wiburg, 1994).
Proponents of change are quick to jump on the bandwagon. They cite the research that states the annual cost of school dropouts in the US is $100 billion. They are also quick to point out that for less than half that, every school in the U.S. can be provided with hardware and software. Yet, change will not come with a computer in every classroom, nor without $10,000 spent on the latest and best multimedia software. It will come if and when teachers are trained. To add to providing each school with hardware and software, we must add that teachers be well-trained and well-supported. It is now well known that one-shot inservice workshops have very little long-term effect on classroom practice (Kinnaman, 1990). Some researchers suggest that staff development must be a continuous process and be available to teachers at the campus level (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (1988) & California Technology Project (1991)).
Three key components of successful instructional technology staff development I have noticed are listed below:
1) Teachers must earn the right to use computers in their classrooms anddemonstrate how they are being used instructionally with students. (20 hours of training will start them off; make sure to provide them with a computer at the beginning of the training).
2) Teachers must have ready access to the hardware and software that supports the curriculum they are teaching.
3) Teachers must have someone to model how to integrate technology into the classroom on an ongoing basis with their students, as well as provide feedback to them. No hands-off consultants.
The buzzwords in educational technology are tool-based software and one-computer classroom methodology. Tool-based software is best summarized by the statement: �Ask not what computers can do with students but rather what students can do with computers.� One-computer classroom methodology refers to cooperative groups engaged in creative problem-solving and decision-making via a simulation.
These two buzzwords take on meaning as students use information management tools (WP/SS/DB/Hypermedia) to solve the simulation, share ideas, and information. How can teachers be well-trained? Only if they are well-supported. This means that while integrating technology is a road teachers can walk, the job of paving and keeping the road clear falls to the administration. Over the next few issues of TechEdge, we will discuss the process of integrating technology at both the campus and the district level, outlining exactly what needs to be done at each level.

References

California Technology Project Assessment Team. (1991). An assessment of educational technology applications in California public schools (1990-1991). Chico, CA: California State University.
Kinnaman, D.E. (1990). Staff development: How to build your winning team. Technology and Learning, 11 (2), 24-28.
See, J. (March 1994). Technology and Outcome-Based Education: Connections in Concept and Practice. The Computing Teacher, 30.
Wiburg, K. (February 1994). Integrating technologies into schools: Why has it been so slow? The Computing Teacher , 6-8.
U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. (1988). Power on! New tools for teaching and learning, OTA-SET-379. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.