by Dr. Sylvia Charp Editor-in-Chief Need for teachers to be better prepared for the use of technology as an assist in teaching and learning is well recognized. Programs in teacher training institutions, schools and business are providing needed skills for teachers. However, as is stated in the April 3, 1995 issue of the U.S. News and World Report, "though surveys show increases in purchase of computers and greater access to computer resources, their proper utilization is not assured." Typically, after a few days of training, teachers are expected to exploit all the capabilities of the equipment. Graduate Schools of Education are now facing intense scrutiny yet they remain at the bottom of "Academia's pecking order." Minimum utilization of technologies is evident. Mention is made of Virginia's School of Education, which utilizes case-study methods and computerized techniques to create multimedia and online material. Pre-service teachers are exposed to computerized solutions of real-life decision making in the classroom. Many schools of education and teacher training institutions are also working with public and private schools, responding to the need for incorporating technology into curricula. These include use of multimedia, information utilities, networks, distance education, teleconferencing, CD-ROM, videodiscs and other applicable technologies. Those who enter the teaching profession are better prepared to use technologies in all subject areas and are more technologically literate and knowledgeable. Training Efforts Increasing Inservice training and staff development programs to assist teachers are expanding. These include: Training centers for technology trainers: technology coordinators, media specialists, management information specialists, librarians and subject matter specialists; Training schedules that provide released time for teachers; Year-round training: summer workshop and college opportunities through the year; User groups: use of Internet; Increase in resources for teacher training; For example: Decatur City Public School District allocates 40% for hardware, 40% for training, 15% for software and 5% to establish networks; Montgomery City Public Schools, Rockville, Md., in its strategic plan states, "In order to get the full productive potential from new workplace technology, it is necessary to spend $1 on training for every $1 on technology." However, as stated in an Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) Report released on April 4, 1995 at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing (Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education), "Despite over a decade of investment in educational hardware and software, relatively few of America's 2.8 million teachers use technology regularly in their teaching." Newest OTA Report The OTA's nearly 300 page well-written report, "Teachers and Technology: Making the Connection," defines major issues and examines what happens when teachers use technology effectively and what d'es influence technology integration in schools. Many important issues are analyzed; key finding are summarized. Some of these are: Using technology can change the way teachers teach; Increased communications is one of the biggest changes technologies offer teachers; Most teachers have not had adequate training to prepare them to use technology effectively; Despite importance of technology in teacher education, it is not central to the teacher-preparation experience in most colleges of education in the U.S. today; The Federal government has focused more on inservice than pre-service education, channeling more support to K-12 schools than to colleges of education. Federal policy must go beyond funding. Leadership commitment to research, development and an increased emphasis and attention on issues related to teachers' access to emerging technologies are critical. (Copies of the OTA report are available from the U.S. Government Office (202) 224-3695.) National Education Goals Panel's Report Another report recently issued, and fourth in a series of annual reports to measure progress through the year 2000, is "National Education Goals Report - Building a Nation of Learners." Eight goals are listed. Goal 4 is Teacher Education and Professional Development: "By the year 2000, the nation's teaching force will have access to programs for the continued improvement of their professional skills and the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to instruct and prepare all American students for the next century
All teachers will have continuing opportunities to acquire additional knowledge and skills needed to teach challenging subject matter and to use emerging new methods, forms of assessment, and technologies." Partnerships will be established, whenever possible, among local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, parents, and local labor, business and professional associations to provide support programs for the professional development of educators. (Contact them at National Education Goals Panel - 1850 M. St. NW, #270, Washington, DC 20036-7590.) National Standards The concern over pre-service and inservice education is certainly growing. Less obvious is what information is essential for teachers in all levels of education. Though the subject of national standards is very controversial, such standards could assist in identifying what knowledge, skills, abilities and understanding are needed for an individual to be prepared to use technology in a quickly changing world.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.