Incoming teachers may have superior knowledge about computers, but they lack the experience to understand how they can put those skills to use in the classroom. Some university-level teaching programs are trying to address this gap by having pre-service teachers design and implement technology-based courses for real students, under the direction of in-service teachers as mentors.
In a project in which the author was involved, pre-service teachers began by meeting with in-service teachers to discuss the general goals of the program. The goal was to design sophisticated, challenging projects, not just rote-style programs. Then the pre-service teachers created technology-based instructional materials, which were critiqued by both the in-service teachers and the author. Finally, after revisions, the projects were used by students.
Once the project was completed, the pre-service teachers received feedback not only from their mentors, but also from the students who did the project. This final feedback stage was judged by the in-service teachers to be especially valuable in helping them design instructional materials in the future.
By forming a partnership between in-service teachers and pre-service teachers, the newcomers were able to:
• Get a sense of how technology is used in schools today;
• Learn about different types of technology that are available;
• Hone their skills in basic software applications; and
• See examples of how information in their specific fields of expertise can be transformed by technology.