Aspiring teachers ill-prepared to use ed tech effectively


Three-fourths of principals want new teachers to know how to use technology to create authentic learning experiences for students.

Students who are studying to become teachers use social media in their personal lives more frequently than in-service teachers do, and they want to use ed tech in their classrooms—but their teacher preparation programs aren’t fully preparing them to do this, according to a new report from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow.

In spite of their comfort with using technology tools, two-thirds of aspiring teachers say they are learning how to integrate technology into instruction mostly through their field experiences as student teachers and by observing their professors, rather than the assignments they get in school.

What’s more, the survey revealed a troubling disconnect between principals’ expectations for how new teachers should use technology for instruction, and the ed-tech skills that pre-service teachers are learning in their teacher preparation programs.

For example, two-thirds of principals would like new teachers to be able to create and use video, podcasts, and other media, but only 44 percent of aspiring teachers say they are learning this skill. Forty-five percent of principals want new teachers to incorporate student-owned mobile devices into lessons, but just 19 percent of aspiring teachers say they know how to do this.

Forty-five percent of principals want new teachers to use social media in their instruction, but only a quarter of aspiring teachers have learned how to do this. And 25 percent of principals want new teachers to know how to teach an online class—but fewer than 10 percent of pre-service teachers are learning this skill.

The top three technology tools or techniques that pre-service teachers are learning in their methods classes are how to use word processing, spreadsheet, and database software (71 percent), how to create multimedia presentations (64 percent), and how to use interactive whiteboards (55 percent).

“While these are arguably valuable skills for teacher productivity, principals have a different set of expectations about the technology experiences they want to see in potential teaching candidates,” the report says. “Principals want new teachers to know how to use technology to create authentic learning experiences for students (75 percent) and how to leverage technology to differentiate instruction (68 percent) before they apply for a position at their school.”

(Next page: How pre-service teachers are taking education into their own hands)

Despite this apparent gap in the curriculum of many teacher preparation programs, aspiring teachers place a high value on ed tech’s role in both student and teacher success. According to the survey, nearly 50 percent of students in teacher education programs use online videos and social networking sites to “self-train” for future teaching assignments.

The findings are based on Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up survey from the 2011-12 school year, a national survey of the experiences and expectations that students, parents, teachers, administrators, and pre-service teachers have about ed tech. The survey included responses from nearly 1,400 college students in teacher education programs, and these responses were compared to those of more than 36,000 in-service teachers and 4,000 administrators.

The report, called “Learning in the 21st Century: Digital Experiences and Expectations of Tomorrow’s Teachers,” was released Feb. 7. It can be downloaded here.

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Dennis Pierce

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