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Preparing New Teachers: How Collaboration Across Professional Associations Can Advance Technology Infusion

This article and photo originally appeared on the Advancing Research & Innovation in the STEM Education of Preservice Teachers in High-Need School Districts (ARISE) website and are reprinted with permission.

Teacher ar his desk working with 2 students using a laptop computer.

Despite heavy investment in STEM (e.g., STEM for ALL), most PK-20 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics instruction remains heavily siloed. To date, educators have not agreed on a clear definition of STEM. Is it curriculum or a teaching technique/pedagogy? Can a science lesson be called STEM, even if the other domains are not fully represented? As technology advocates, we think STEM curricula should have a strong representation from all four domains.

The STEM movement was intended to address science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in order to produce students who are prepared for the unique needs of today’s workforce. With regard to the “T” component of STEM, the only way to develop teacher candidates who fully embrace the power of technology for P12 is to infuse technology throughout their preparation.

A “technology infusion” approach (or program-deep, program-wide as noted by the U.S. Department of Education, 2017) is a recent movement. Theoretically, in a technology infusion program, a technology integration curriculum permeates the many experiences teacher candidates have en route to preparation (beyond a stand-alone, technology integration course). This approach is worth noting in STEM conversations because it aligns with STEM being defined as all four domains represented.

Nationally, several groups have begun to advocate for a “technology infusion” approach. We highlight the initiatives below as promising because they are designed to be intentionally collaborative, enabling multiple stakeholders to provide input and support a larger initiative. Together we can gain traction and establish a firm foundation for change nationally and internationally.

The Annual National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS)

The National Technology Leadership Summit brings together leaders from educational technology and teacher education organizations, as well as editors of educational technology journals, directors of non-profit foundations, federal policy makers, and corporate representatives to promote the integration of innovative technologies and pedagogy. Each summit provides a structured time for the leaders in major educational technology organizations (SITE, ISTE, AECT) to discuss issues with leaders who are more broadly focused on teacher education in the content areas (e.g., ASTE, AMTE, CUFA, ELATE). This collaboration has resulted in over 20 peer reviewed articles, four books, and numerous conference presentations. Consequently, the summit continues to serve as a relevant forum for advancing effective uses of technology in the preparation of teachers and educational leaders. In recent years, strands during the summit have included a focus on 3-D printing, maker spaces, wearable technologies, evaluation of hardware and software for P12, and competencies for teacher educators.

NTLS 2018 Strand on Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs)

One of the NTLS 2018 strands of investigation was “TETC Cases: Program Deep and Program Wide vs. Technology in a Shrinking Educational Economy.” Strand participants explored the variety of efforts to infuse technology integration curriculum across courses in teacher certification programs. In a prior year, NTLS participants discussed the kinds of competencies needed by teacher education faculty. Several participants in that strand moved ahead with a research project, leading a large-scale collaborative effort to identify competencies for teacher educators who support teacher candidates as they learn to teach with technology. The three-phase collaborative research involved crowdsourcing of literature, expert opinion collected through a Delphi process, and open public comment leading to the 12 TETCs—the Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (Foulger, Graziano, Schmidt-Crawford, Slykhuis, 2017). The TETCs include the expectation that “teacher educators will design instruction that utilizes content-specific technologies to enhance teaching and learning.” (See TETCs for a complete listing.)

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Symposia

The AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (AACTE I&T Committee) has taken an active role in shaping the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Its 2008 Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators (AACTE Innovation and Technology Committee) provided an introduction to the TPACK framework and examples for application of the framework across disciplines; a second edition of the handbook (Herring, Koehler & Mishra, 2016) updated related research, theory, and practices.  (The acronym for the framework has been updated from TPCK to TPACK.  For the most recent illustration and discussion of the framework, see Mishra, 2019.)

Based on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (DOE/OET) Advancing Educational Technology in Teacher Preparation: Policy Brief (2016) and a related White House Summit in December 2016, the AACTE I&T Committee organized a 2018 symposium addressing the challenge of integrating technology into teacher preparation. Four working groups established during the White House Summit were invited to host discussions during the symposium; they focused on active use of technology, program-deep and system-wide experiences for teacher candidates, research-based competencies for teacher educators, and sustainable systems of professional development for higher education faculty. Symposium planners and presenters included representatives from the AACTE I&T Committee, DOE/OET, and technology leaders from professional associations and colleges/universities across the country as well as P12 settings.

In 2019, education leaders came together again at the AACTE annual meeting for a pre-conference symposium to share strategies, exemplars, and tools to aid teacher education leadership in making informed decisions, developing processes, and assessing the impact of their efforts to infuse technology throughout educator preparation programs. Presenters from the AACTE I&T Committee, leaders from working groups established through the DOE/OET, and representatives from accreditation and standards organizations led interactive sessions focused on successful technology infusion within teacher education. Participants focused on four themes and the action steps education leaders can take to address the challenge of technology integration throughout teacher education. These include:

  • Program Development – program-wide and program-deep development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions of new teachers.
  • Teacher Education Faculty Development – recruitment and development of faculty.
  • University/Community Relationships – teacher education engagement within clinical and community contexts.
  • Sustainability for Change – leadership decision-making and sustainability of change initiatives.

A highlight of the symposium was a panel of representatives from key organizations related to accreditation of educator preparation programs, standards, and licensure, including the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the Center for Teacher Performance Assessment at the Stanford University School of Education.

Stakeholder Tools for Moving Forward

The following resources, each focusing on the important role of a stakeholders critical to effective technology infusion, are intended to shape practices across roles in an integrated, intentional manner.

Teachers – ISTE developed new Standards for Educators in 2017. These standards confirm the importance of pedagogical decision-making by teachers and emphasize how technology can support teachers and students in creating dynamic and engaging opportunities for learning. STEM and STEAM topic areas fall within ISTE’s emphasis on problem-based learning, inquiry, and engagement.

Teacher Candidates – In an effort to support teacher preparation, ISTE also announced a pilot program that provides memberships at a reduced cost for teacher education students as a way to engage faculty and candidates in all of the resources and materials available through the organization. Some of these activities include having teacher education candidates join Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s), participate in webinars, use the ISTE Standards for Students and Educators when developing lessons, as well as articles and other STEM and STEAM resources found within the ISTE website. These resources can guide teachers in developing activities that bridge content areas and engage their students in unique and creative ways.

Focus on Teacher Preparation Faculty – Guided by national research to identify competencies for teacher educators (the TETCs), the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE) encouraged sharing of research and practice related to the professional development of teacher educators who wish to infuse technology into their courses. Interested readers should watch for a special edition of JTATE Issue V28,N1 entitled “Preparing All Teacher Educators to Support Teacher Candidates’ Integration of Technology,” expected to be published as the first issue of 2020.

Focus on Teacher Preparation Leaders – In addition to the handbooks mentioned above, the AACTE I&T Committee developed the TPACK Leadership Diagnostic Tool to support college/university administrators and other leaders of teacher preparation programs in their analysis of progress and their potential next steps in successful infusion of technology. The tool aids in the examination of adequate resources, faculty development, curriculum initiatives, and political context. Recent research on use of the tool by leaders in several university settings includes recommendations for using it to support change in teacher preparation (Clausen, Finsness, Borthwick, Graziano, Carpenter & Herring, 2019).

Cooperating Teachers, Professional Developers, Teacher Preparation Faculty and Leaders – Effective clinical practice and induction of new teachers require collaboration of school-university personnel in designing opportunities, support, and systematic feedback loops to infuse technology in the teaching and learning of preservice and newly licensed teachers. An upcoming ISTE publication in 2020 by the blog authors centers on building capacity for technology infusion in teacher preparation, including chapters on clinical practice and teacher induction.

In Conclusion

The current movement to integrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics was intended to produce students who are prepared to think and work in today’s world. Similarly, technology needs to be infused throughout the preparation of teacher candidates to prepare them to teach today’s students. Unfortunately, the push for an increased emphasis on STEM preparation has progressed largely through a top-down approach and has neglected to ensure that many of the major professional organizations in each domain have input on its ideation. Collaboration across professional associations supports informed progress, highlighting issues, challenges, research initiatives and results, opportunities to collaborate, and new learning to move the fields of STEM education and teacher preparation forward. We wish you success in your work with teacher preparation candidates and hope your collaborative efforts help to advance both teaching and learning in the STEM fields!

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Arlene Borthwick

National Louis University

Teresa Foulger

Arizona State University

David Slykhuis

University of Northern Colorado