Preparing young teachers to use technology

Lynne H asked, a while ago, ‘what are universities doing to make sure that their teacher candidates are prepared to use and teach their students to use technology?’ Her conclusion was ‘not much’.

I read this at a time when I was beginning to plan a unit of work for postgraduate trainee teachers at a local University. So I turned Lynne’s question in on myself. What might I do to prepare these students to use technology?

I thought about what I have been doing with my own secondary students. (I teach English part-time, and this University work is new for me.) I don’t teach them about technology. I don’t know nearly as much as many of them. Instead we use it, and I learn as I go. A year ago I didn’t know a wiki from a Ning or a website. Now we use wikis in all my classes and in the new year we’re going to have a go at using Nings.

So how might I do something similar with these University students, so that they don’t just experience the thrill of Web 2.0 together but leave the University itching to use it in their classes?

I’d like some help here. I’m going to describe a proposal that I’m going to make to my co-teacher of this postgraduate course, and any challenges, refinements or concerns from this Classroom 2.0 community would be most welcome.

The unit
The students are training to be secondary teachers, and are from a variety of different disciplines. The focus is on literacy across the secondary curriculum. So we want the students to become more skilled at making their future students more literate, both in a general way (better readers and writers, defined broadly) and in ways that are specific to their discipline (ways of communicating in history or maths or science, etc).

We therefore want them to be developing their own writing skills. Our first thought was to design one of the major projects around a creative writing task to do with family. But I’ve been wondering if we might instead use this creative writing task to develop the students’ capacities in using Web 2.0.

Therefore, my draft proposal suggests that students (1) choose one of the following as their major task, and (2) document their progress, from beginning to end, in a regularly written personal blog.

Choices for the creative task
  1. Imagine yourself the possessor of a piece of knowledge and/or insight in your discipline that you urgently want to communicate to others in your field. Identify a professional journal or website for which you might write an article on this breakthrough knowledge, and write the article.
  2. Increasingly students in schools are being required to be ‘Internet savvy’, and to communicate their ideas using the web. Here is an example from a student who decided to create a website on a topic which interested him, Postmodernism. Your task is to identify an educational issue that you would like to explore, and to create a website or blog which engagingly teaches an interested community about this topic.
  3. Imagine that you are wanting to challenge a school staff about an educational issue dear to your heart. How might you communicate your thoughts on this issue to the staff? In a short film? In a podcast? Using VoiceThreads? With a talk supplemented by various media? In some other way? Create your presentation to an imagined school staff.

Any thoughts?
So what do you think? I'm relatively new to all this, and an old fogey as well, so your suggestions and challenges would be most helpful. Would such a task help address Lynne’s concern? How might it be extended, or adapted, or changed? I’d especially appreciate thoughts from trainee teachers or teachers who have just finished their training. Would what I am proposing have been useful for you?

Views: 26

Comment by Lidia Sevilla on January 15, 2009 at 12:01pm
Preparing teachers to do technology is quite a ride. I think its a slow process with incredible results for the students. We started teaching our teachers about web 2.0 tool this year and as I said It has been a very slow process. I think your creative task choices are great. Where do you think I can look for more??
Comment by Steve Shann on January 16, 2009 at 6:42pm
Thanks Lidia, for your thoughts and encouragement. You ask where to go for more. I'm afraid I don't know of a source for ideas like this; perhaps others on Classroom 2.0 can help. I make them up as I go! (If you were interested, and you described to me the specific situation you're wanting ideas like these for, I'd be happy to make some up with you!)

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