Teacher Educators Unite to Shape Educational Technology

Teacher Educators
Participants in the 2015 National Technology Leadership Summit included the heads of educator preparation associations for literacy, English, special education, engineering, science, mathematics, and more.

Last week, AACTE hosted an annual technology summit for the leaders of 10 teacher educator associations that formed a coalition in 2000 around educational technology and educator preparation. This 2-day event has witnessed or directly led to some amazing developments over the years, ranging from research to tools to entirely new technologies, as coalition members serve as a unique focus group and visionary working network bridging education and industry.

Rather than reacting to new technologies, members of this National Technology Leadership Coalition (NTLC) sought to shape them by partnering with developers to include discipline-specific pedagogical considerations. In its early days, for example, this group sought to capitalize on improved digital imaging capabilities for classroom use. Webcams and digital cameras were becoming affordable enough to deploy in classrooms, but educationally oriented software was needed to enable students to catalog and analyze the images and videos. Canon USA answered the invitation to collaborate with the NTLC partners on developing open-source software, such as CameraScope for use in science education, and the work borne of this collaboration ultimately led to two books published by the International Society for Technology in Education, Teaching With Digital Images and Teaching With Digital Video.

Other NTLC leadership for integration of emergent technologies into teacher education has included collaboration with Texas Instruments on effective use of digital projectors to support classroom teaching, and with SMART and Promethean on effective use of interactive smartboards for science and math instruction, among other innovations. The coalition also provided leadership for development of personal digital assistants that anticipated today’s ubiquitous educational tablets.

Last week’s leadership summit included a dinner at the National Museum of American History to mark a new collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution on emergent 3D-digitization and related augmented-reality technologies. This relationship evolved from recent work among the coalition associations, Canon, and FableVision on a computer-assisted design (CAD) application for PK-12 student use, scheduled for release later this year as the Fab@School Maker Studio. The Smithsonian is enlisting students to use this very type of technology for its 3D digitization program “American Innovations in an Age of Discovery,” which allows students to use digital fabrication to learn science and engineering concepts through the reconstruction of key inventions in American history.

In addition to tool development, the coalition has played a major role in publishing research and other resources for the field. Part of the annual summit involves journal editors sharing their latest content and themes with the group. Members of the coalition also jointly sponsor an interactive journal, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE Journal). The AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology took the lead on another key resource, the Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Educators, developed in collaboration with the other NTLC organizations. Published in 2008, this work continues to be influential in shaping our understanding of how technology is best integrated into various disciplines in teacher preparation through the interplay of understanding technology, pedagogy, and content for “technological pedagogical content knowledge,” or TPACK. A second edition is in the works, and this year, we welcome the companion publication Practitioner’s Guide to TPACK with media-rich teaching cases in each content area. The committee also recently developed a diagnostic tool for use by teacher educators, which you can help pilot.

For these exciting innovations (and surely many more to come), we are indebted to the vision of Tom Carroll, then head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) program, who in 1999 anticipated the power of bringing this coalition of teacher educators together around the burgeoning potential of educational technologies. Hosting this annual summit is not only an honor but also a lot of fun, as I marvel at how far we have come in a relatively short time.

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Sharon Robinson

President and CEO, AACTE