Intergenerational Learning: A Model for Teacher Preparation
Deborah Jolly, Frank Clark, Texas A&M University, United States
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA
Intergenerational Learning: A Model for Teacher Preparation
With funding from the Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology initiative a consortium of seven rural school districts along with Texas A&M University has designed an innovative approach for integrating technology into teacher preparation programs that allows thousands of minority, language minority, children of poverty and geographic isolation to access teachers that are better prepared to teach in their increasingly high tech classrooms. Through the use of an intergenerational mentoring program, pre-service teachers, university faculty, and K-12 teachers interact with one another to learn best practice and technology integration skills.
The need for institutions of higher learning to prepare students for a technological world is self-evident and is striking in an area that is geographically isolated such as East Texas. Here not only school districts struggle to get qualified technologically savvy teachers to fill classrooms but the university also struggles to provide the technical assistance and ongoing support to a faculty that is just now beginning to embrace technology. Finding technical support and training opportunities in the business world has proved expensive and non-existent when indeed the answer to the dilemma was immediately evident: use the existing pre-service teachers now in the College of Education to provide the assistance to faculty.
Why use a technical assistance group that ranges in age from about 18 to 24 years of age? First we know that this age group is made up of predominately the Net Generation (sometimes called Generation Y). The Net Generation, having grown up with the new technologies, enters our institutions of higher education with a much better comfort level for technology than the existing university faculty who grew up with television and radio. Consequently an "Intergenerational Digital Divide" exists. To compound the problem, a second divide exists in our state: that is, the technology infrastructure gap between public schools and higher education teacher preparation programs in Texas. Texas schools have experienced substantial technology infrastructure changes over the past few years. Colleges of Education, however, are limited in their ability to provide substantial pre-service training in Internet-based technologies so that beginning teachers may take advantage of this increased infrastructure. Rather than presenting exemplary models of technology-enhanced instruction to pre-service teachers, most Texas institutions of higher education are struggling with integrating technology into courses and content areas and in offering of on-line courses.
The design of this PT3 initiative, funded in the first round of funding in 1999, is to address the need for increased faculty proficiency in technology while recognizing the challenge and the potential of the disparity between faculty and students in technology skills. The goals of the project were to facilitate faculty development through both approaches: building capacity and providing tech support. We did this by: 1) developing proficiency of the faculty in the TAMU COE in the use of various instructional and communication technologies (building capacity); 2) developing capacity within the TAMU COE in digital media that supports the NCATE standards and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) (building capacity); and 3) providing support to faculty transitioning to the new teacher training program by providing support in the area of technology support and infusion into the curriculum and coursework (providing tech support).
Program Description The Technology Mentor Fellowship Program (TMFP) draws upon successful strategies evolving from programs funded by the Technology Literacy Challenge, specifically the Generation www y program, Gen Y Challenge Grant-Olympia, Washington) and the Profiler and Trackstar tools developed in a partnership with the current High Plains Regional Technology in Education Consortia. Training materials supplied through a partnership with Intel and Microsoft (Gates Foundation) through the Intel Teach to the Future initiative provided additional training and support.
The scope of work for the TMFP is to: 1) Provide teacher education faculty (campus based faculty, cooperating teachers, early experience supervisors) a system for technology training that: ·Provides intensive mentoring and support to faculty, and cooperating teachers in the field from pre-service teachers experienced in the process of integrating technology into instruction at the K-12 level; ·Identifies the growing knowledge base within college and school organizations, among students and faculty, and supports the sharing of both skills and knowledge through collaboration and the development of specific, skill related instructional objects; ·Provides continuous assessment of competence for college and school teacher education faculty, in the area of integration of technology into instruction; ·Provides professional development activities tailored to the particular needs identified by teacher education faculty regarding technology skills/processes for technology integration. 2) Provide teacher education faculty and pre-service teachers access to a repository of instructional objects designed to: ·Develop and use basic technology skills, skills in the instructional application of technology; ·Use technology-congruent pedagogy, such as project based learning and continuous skills assessment; ·Be searchable by their application to specific issues related to the integration of technology into instruction across grade levels, content areas, and national standards. 3) Provide opportunities to organize instructional objects into web-based courses.
Outcomes The redesigned elementary and secondary teacher preparation programs became fully operational as field based programs during this TMFP initiative. The elementary program has 12 Professional Development Schools (PDS) and 10 Integrated Methods Schools (IMS) that support the preparation of approximately 430 teaching candidates each semester. IMS are pairs of schools that support the field-based teacher preparation programs. All methods classes are conducted on site at the schools. The department head of teacher education has worked closely with the TMFP project staff to provide the equipment and infrastructure to support technology integration throughout the teacher preparation curricula. To example, four "smart carts" have been placed at PDS/IMS schools to enable greater technology integration into the field experiences for our teaching candidates. The smart carts consist of a large heavy-duty movable cart equipped with a laptop computer with Internet card, a digital projector, a VCR, a digital camera, and a PolyComm (2-way audio-video communication system). In turn, TMFP project staff assigned a team of technology fellows (pre-service teachers) to assist the faculty in developing instructional objects for the methods classes and classroom activities in the school. This collaboration will be very significant in sustaining the goals of the TMFP initiative once the funding has been completed.
Early on in the project, logistical challenges became daunting for tracking the large number of technology fellows. Anticipating these challenges, project staff developed an Electronic Management System to track various forms of information and to aide in the data collection. The management system uses the Internet to address challenges associated with multiple levels of communications, project management and monitoring of electronic instructional object development. Profiler has been used to assess and monitor the ongoing progress of all project participants.
One key aspect of the program is the joint-creation of learning objects by faculty and their student mentor, as we believe this provides for support and builds capacity. It is clear that a large number of electronic objects have been created across a wide range of content areas for learners from kindergarten through graduate school. Of the electronic products created, three are directly associated with a n online asynchronous course that was offered during the year.
The initiative offers an extensive professional development program to enable all teacher educators to develop and assess their own changing skill levels for developing synchronous and asynchronous distributed learning systems. It also provides a vehicle for teacher education faculty to develop and demonstrate innovative learning resources, such as web-based learning environments, on-line forums, multimedia project-based learning activities for all components of their teacher preparation programs, and where appropriate, allows for the organization of related digital instructional objects into web-based courses. Findings from this study also address issues related to intergenerational learning and cross-age teamwork,
Jolly, D. & Clark, F. (2002). Intergenerational Learning: A Model for Teacher Preparation. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1349-1350). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).