Preparing the 21st Century Teacher


Teacher education, especially in the use oftechnology, is an ongoing endeavor. Preparing teachers for the 21stcentury, with the onrush of new technologies and the flood ofmultimedia products, requires a restructuring of content, rethinkingof existing methodology and another look at existing assessmenttools. Radical changes in school environments have made available avariety of alternative educational opportunities.

The Internet and interactive computer-basedmultimedia capabilities are transforming the educational institutionand the way teachers teach and students learn. A number ofobservations can be noted. These include:

  • A greater number of educators use technology; teachers are more comfortable with the technology itself; and support from administrators, the community and the public has increased.
  • Training of new teachers in the use of technology is still not widespread. A larger number of universities have moved to broaden educational training to include technology. However, the cross training of the teachers by the faculty from other schools with education students (i.e., engineering) is not widespread.
  • Support in the form of grants from the federal government, vendors, non-profit organizations, etc. has increased. For example, Alan Weiss, President and CEO of Advanced Network and Services, which sponsors the very successful ThinkQuest competition, plans to offer "prizes to students and teachers for innovative use of networking in a multi-year program to help future educators and students currently pursuing an education track in colleges and universities to develop skills and know-how required to introduce technologies into their classrooms in a meaningful way."
  • The World Wide Web is playing a consistent and pervasive role in education. Proper use of networks is contributing to the professional development of teachers as well as student learning.
  • Most technology training for educators focuses on using technology in a traditional classroom or laboratory setting; however, the increasing availability of Internet access makes online courses an option. Many educators say they use the Internet as a teaching tool, although they received no formal training.
  • Students are taking a more active role in their learning. Technology is motivating as teachers become more comfortable with its utilization.

More Than Technology

Preparing teachers for the 21st century, ofcourse, involves more than the use of technology. It is interestingto note an article by R. Lear, in the July/August issue of ChiefExecutives, lists the following traits for successful leaders:Adaptive; Always Learning; Ambitious; Articulate; Attentive; Bold;Character; Charisma; Class; Competent Technology; Conclusive;Confident; Creative; Courage (guts); Decisive; Empathy; Empowering;Energetic; Experienced; Feedback-Receptive; Focused; Global; GoodListener; Industrious; Inspirational; Intensity; Judgment;Optimistic; Passionate; People Skills; Perseverance; Persistent;Realistic; Risk Taker; Self Confident; Self Knowledge; Sincere;Taste; Tough; Trustworthy; Vision.

How d'es one prepare the teacher to possess all ofthe traits listed above? Computer Technology is just one of the 41traits; however, as long as technology continues to assist in theteaching/learning process, it is one trait for which educators shouldbe fully prepared and given ongoing support.

At a 1995 meeting sponsored by the Society forApplied Learning Technology and the American Association of Collegesfor Teacher Education, Dr. Gabriel D. Ofiesh, Professor ofEducational Technology, Howard University, presented the followingscenario:

"What if I were a principal in an educationalcenter. Let's imagine that I am interviewing a teacher and I say toher, 'I've reviewed your portfolio. I've reviewed your reports ofyour experiences. I've talked to some of your internship students,and I see you have quite an extensive training in both cognitivepsychology and the behavioral sciences.... I see by your portfoliothat you know about the whole array of devices that can transmitinformation to any part of the world. I also am pleased to note thatyou have your own World Wide Web page and that many of your studentsand colleagues access it frequently and you theirs. Some of yourformer students speak glowingly of your encouraging them to use theinformation highway to talk to students in Australia and New Zealand.We are pleased to have you aboard.'"

The above scenario is coming closer to realizationas we better prepare our teachers. It d'es require technical support,financial support and people support.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1998 issue of THE Journal.