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Teacher Preparation

Technology Boosters Seek Better Teacher Training

By Andrew Trotter — January 19, 2000 3 min read

A group of business and education leaders is urging colleges to assess their teacher education programs within the next six months to determine how well they are preparing new teachers to use technology in the classroom.

For More Information

“The Teacher Preparation StaR Chart” is available from the CEO forum at: www.ceoforum.org/repo rts.cfm?RID=3.

The CEO Forum on Education and Technology issued that call here last week at the Department of Education’s National Conference on Teacher Quality, where the group also unveiled a new tool to guide such self- assessments, called the “Teacher Preparation StaR Chart.”

Since its founding in 1996, the Washington-based forum—comprising top executives of 20 high-tech, media, and education companies, plus the executive directors of the National School Boards Association and the National Education Association—has released annual reports promoting the effective use of technology in education. Last year, its report and self-assessment chart addressed school districts’ role in providing professional development in the use of technology.

But districts shouldn’t be shouldering the whole training burden themselves, according to Anne L. Bryant, the executive director of the NSBA.

“The school boards of this country can’t afford to hire graduates who come to us with a blank computer screen,” she said at a press conference.

Yet fewer than half the nation’s schools and colleges of education require courses in technology, according to CEO Forum founder and President John S. Hendricks, the chairman and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications Inc., the Bethesda, Md.- based media company. And only three states—Idaho, North Carolina, and Virginia—require new teachers to be proficient in integrating technology in teaching.

Four Levels

The new self- assessment chart looks at 14 facets of college and university teacher- preparation programs that can lead to effective use of technology in the classroom. Among them: campuswide strategic planning, “faculty development” in the college of education, partnerships with K-12 schools involving technology, and coursework that integrates technology to enhance learning.

For each facet, the chart describes characteristics of four successive levels of capability—"early tech,” “developing tech,” “advanced tech,” and “target tech” programs. Regarding the facet of faculty development, for example, a “target tech” program is one that offers college faculty members formal and informal training and mentoring in the use of technology in education, “with incentives for application in teaching and research.”

An “early tech” program, by contrast, offers few workshops, limited content integration, and no training incentives for faculty members.

Ms. Bryant said teacher-training programs should complete the self-assessment by “commencement day” of this academic year. She also said school boards and state governments could use the tool to assess their local colleges and universities, and that certifying bodies should tie certification to a commitment to technology in the preparation of new teachers.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, whom forum officials credit with suggesting that the group look at the preparation of new teachers, was on hand for the announcement. “Used properly, this chart can be an important tool for self-assessment for colleges of education and a tool for their future direction,” he said.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has crafted new guidelines that include standards for preparing teachers to use technology. The guidelines are expected to be final by this spring and to go into effect in 2001, according to NCATE President Arthur Wise.

One obstacle to improving teacher education programs is that tenured college professors traditionally enjoy a great deal of independence, reducing an institution’s leverage to change its curriculum, said Kathleen Fulton, the assistant director of the Center for Learning and Educational Technology at the University of Maryland’s college of education, as well as the chief consultant for the CEO Forum’s self- assessment chart. By contrast, she said, “In K-12, you can say, ‘All the faculty is going to go to this workshop.’ ”

But education schools do have ways of nudging faculty members to go along, Ms. Fulton suggested, such as providing professors who emphasize technology with graduate assistants, extra time to work on curriculum development, and credit toward tenure.

The CEO Forum’s self- assessment tool is available online at www.ceoforum.org.

A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2000 edition of Education Week as Technology Boosters Seek Better Teacher Training

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