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Exploring Teaching, Learning, and Instructional Reform in an Introductory Technology Course Article

, , , University of Utah, United States

Journal of Technology and Teacher Education Volume 7, Number 2, ISSN 1059-7069 Publisher: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education, Chesapeake, VA

Abstract

The typical introduction to technology course focuses on helping preservice teachers develop skills for using technology and integrating it into their practice (Downs, 1992; McKenzie, 1994; Niess, 1991; Raiford & Braulick, 1995). Current national standards for technology in teacher preparation also emphasize the importance of developing skills and competencies for using technology (ISTE, 1997; Wiebe & Taylor, 1997). Thus, technology teacher educators tend to see teaching technology-related skills as the primary purpose for the introductory technology course.

However, the preservice technology course has the potential to fill a more central role in a teacher education program. The technology course can provide an authentic context for future educators to examine instructional practices and reflect on their learning as they learn new skills and content. Unlike content-area methods courses—in which preservice teachers often assume they understand the content and are simply learning to teach it—most students expect to learn new concepts and skills in technology courses. Course activities can be designed to help students develop technical competence as they explore educational issues in teaching, learning, and instructional reform.

Instructional practice is in a state of transition in American public schools. Ongoing instructional reform efforts promote the use of student-centered cognitive constructivist1 teaching methods (Cobb, 1994; Jonassen, 1991; von Glasersfeld, 1989; 1995). From a constructivist perspective, the learner actively integrates new information with existing knowledge to construct meaning through experience and develops personal theories about the physical and social world (Piaget, 1970; 1980). Constructivists argue that education involves providing activities and an environment that supports student efforts to construct increasingly complex and sophisticated understandings. Most preservice teachers, however, have a vision of schooling that is grounded in didactic instructional methods. Didactic pedagogy reflects an objectivist tradition that centers on the efficient transfer of knowledge to students and the replication of basic skills (Duffy & Jonassen, 1992; Jonassen, 1991; Lakoff, 1987). Technology provides a versatile instructional tool that can be used to support both pedagogical orientations. Thus, activities in the introductory technology course can be structured to help students compare and contrast these two viewpoints based on their own learning experiences.

The technology course provides a forum for preservice teachers to: (a) reflect on their own learning processes, (b) develop a deeper understanding of learning theory, (c) analyze assumptions underlying traditional and reform-oriented instructional methods, (d) critique the nature of school-based learning experiences, and (e) examine the relationship between learning theory and instructional practice. In the following sections we discuss issues associated with the instructional reform movement, describe factors associated with conceptual change, and present a series of course activities designed to help students explore learning, instruction and reform in our introductory technology course.

Citation

Niederhauser, D.S., Salem, D.J. & Fields, M. (1999). Exploring Teaching, Learning, and Instructional Reform in an Introductory Technology Course. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 7(2), 153-172. Charlottesville, VA: SITE.

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