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Preparation to Teach in Technology-Rich K-12 Classroom Environments

In today’s schools, the ability to integrate technology into the teaching and learning environment is a necessary and crucial skill. Many K-12 classroom environments are technology-rich, with 1:1 devices, blended learning, and even distance instruction taking place. However, new teachers often enter the classroom unprepared to successfully utilize educational technology and navigate the technology-rich classroom environment. The research study, Preparation to Teach in Technology-Rich K-12 Classroom Environments, examined the preparation of preservice teachers to teach with technology in today’s classrooms and explored the gap between the preparation teachers received in their teacher education program and what they needed to be able to do to be successful as classroom teachers. The study was conducted during the spring of 2022, and a total of 217 K to 12th grade teachers in their first three years of teaching in the United States participated in the survey, with ten participating in an in-depth follow-up interview.

Three major themes emerged from the data:

  1. There is a disconnect between teacher preparation programs and today’s classrooms regarding technology.
  2. New teachers are not confident with integrating technology when they enter the classroom, but they are more confident after one to three years teaching.
  3. More hands-on experience with technology and technology training is needed for preservice teachers.

The survey and interview data revealed a broad range of experiences during teachers’ preparation programs, with most teachers reporting that they did not feel their program did an adequate job preparing them to integrate technology. Technology that was taught was often basic, outdated, or teacher-centered. Teachers also reported that while some were able to gain more experience using technology during student teaching, most still found their experience to be lacking.

Although most teachers who participated in the survey and interviews reported that they were not confident with technology when they first began teaching, most reported that they are confident now. Teachers attributed their current confidence to being self-taught, receiving training from their school or district, and having to teach in an online or hybrid setting due to COVID-19 though, not to the training they received in their preparation programs.

The data also revealed that future teachers require more practice using technology as well as more training in the form of modeling. They also need to participate in classes and workshops specific to classroom technology. Teachers who participated emphasized that their training needs to be on devices and programs that are commonly used in classrooms. For this reason, it’s important that preparation programs stay up-to-date as well as actually purchase or subscribe to classroom technology hardware and digital programs.

Classrooms have changed, and teacher preparation programs need to do the same if new teachers are going to enter their first classrooms ready to be the best that they can for students. Now is the time for teacher preparation programs to improve teacher preparation and thereby better meet the needs of students.

Jenna Conan Simpson is a K-12 director of instructional technology in Fort Worth, Texas and recently completed her Ph.D. in Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas.

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