Theme 4: Utilizing appropriate technologies which reflect best practices in education
The task of educators is to prepare initial and advanced candidates to function in a future characterized by the demands of a technology-driven evolution of global knowledge. In recognition of this task and the potential of evolving sophisticated technologies to further transform teaching and learning, the unit made significant progress in integrating instructional technology within required general education (e.g., Using Information Effectively category) and professional education coursework, and in developing student and faculty expertise in the use of instructional technology to help all students learn. Over all, technology has been infused throughout unit programming and is perceived as an integral component of the teaching/learning process. This recognition has been accompanied by investments in technology that extend the capacity of every faculty member and student to connect with an infinite variety of resources and tools for teaching/learning, as well as the faculty development necessary to use and model technology.
Three strategic foundations support use of technology throughout the unit: (1) the integration of state and national standards within coursework, (2) significant faculty development with technology resources, and (3) the College of Education Technology Plan (2006).
Integration of Technology Standards within Coursework
As indicated in the International Society for Technology in Education’s 1999 national report on information technology in teacher education, faculty role models who employ technology across academic programs are crucial to achieving technology outcomes (ISTE, 1999). At Towson University, the use and integration of instructional and information technology are major components of programming at both the initial and advanced levels, requiring candidates to take courses that help them gain knowledge, skills, and experience in the instructional integration of technology. The teacher education program also contains a range of classroom experiences that enables candidates to gain experience and skills in applying the Maryland Teacher Technology Standards (MTTS). (In 1999, Towson University faculty developed the Essential Dimensions of Technology, based on national standards created by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, 1992; Thomas, 1995), and these standards were the starting point for the MTTS developed by MSDE.)
Table 2 illustrates the relationship of the seven Maryland Teacher Technology Standards with required courses in general education, instructional technology and in professional education. The two required Instructional Technology courses within the initial teacher preparation program fully cover all seven of the MTTS. The MTTS skills are also integrated in required professional and pedagogical education coursework at the initial (e.g., EDUC 417, Children’s Literature; MATH 420, Applications of Technology for Secondary School Teachers; KNES 423, Adaptive Physical Education, Internships) and advanced levels (e.g., in required graduate research courses—EDUC 605 and 761, —as well as program-specific Specialized Professional Association (SPA) standards, such as the American Library Association and Educational Leadership Constituent Council).
Table 2. Maryland Teacher Technology Skills and Teacher Education Coursework
It is apparent that technology is not the sole solution to educational problems, but it provides educators with opportunities to express themselves in new, dynamic and interactive ways. These information access and management skills, as well as the ability to critically evaluate information, are what candidates need to ensure their competence and competitiveness in the evolving educational arenas of the 21st century (Berenfield, 1996; Dede, 1998; Fisher, Dwyer, & Yocam, 1996; Maryland Business Roundtable, 2002). Towson is committed to educating current and future educators who will provide their students with rich possibilities and creative experiences that foster higher level thinking and learning. Technology is one vehicle that will fulfill a crucial role in delivering on the promise.
Faculty Development with Technology
For the last five years, the College of Education’s Technology Integration Project (TIP) has spearheaded a systematic, unit-wide technology-based faculty development program to integrate technology. effectively. TIP employed a faculty-mentoring model to enhance core teacher use of technology in preparation courses in the Colleges of Education; and Liberal Arts; Science and Mathematics, and extended its efforts to include its Professional Development School Network.
Key TIP goals included: 1. Develop unit-wide faculty as proficient users of technology who model effective applications of technology integration in classrooms, 2. Prepare pre-service teachers to use and teach with technologies, 3. Improve the quality of the professional education programs by revising existing courses to integrate technology, and 4. Align curriculum and field experiences with Maryland Teacher Technology Standards (MTTS). These goals were designed to help faculty become effective integrators of technology which, in turn, enhanced the quality of their teaching and the professional education experience.
Project goals were achieved by funding faculty who proposed a personal project or plan for faculty development with technology (Wizer, Sadera, & Banerjee, 2005). Participants included eighty-one (81) faculty who work with professional education students from the College of Education, the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Science and Mathematics, and approximately 50 pairs of teachers from our PDS Network. The project provided opportunities for faculty and pre-service teachers to explore and integrate technology effectively in their classrooms, thereby strengthening teaching and learning . By the end of the fourth year of this program, over 75% of the full-time faculty in COE will have been involved either as mentors or protégés (Wizer, Sadera, & Banerjee, 2005). In recognition of its demonstrated success in integrating technology across the professional education program, Towson was awarded the 2003 International Society for Technology in Education NETS Distinguished Achievement Award (see Wizer & Ryan, 2004).In conclusion, this program helped to develop a group of faculty who are knowledgeable technology- integrators, skilled in demonstrating technology uses within teacher education courses, and aware of the interrelationship of technology use, curriculum standards, and student portfolio artifacts (Wizer, Sadera, & Banerjee, 2005).
College of Education Technology Plan
To support the infusion of technology throughout unit programming as an integral component of the teaching/learning process, the technology plan is a five-year, forward-looking plan that addresses faculty, staff, and student needs on-campus, in PDS, and at off-campus sites. It was designed to drive ongoing investments in technology—hardware, software, support, and facilities—required to extend the capacity of every faculty member and student to connect with a wide variety of resources and tools for teaching/learning, as well as the professional development and mentoring necessary to use and model technology.