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Developing Technology Excellence in Teachers Requires Lots of Practice

This article originally appeared on the ISTE blog and is reprinted with permission.

Two women working on computer

If teacher candidates are to learn how to integrate technology, teacher educators and PK-12 mentor teachers must value, promote and demand that technology be an essential element to good teaching. Furthermore, teacher candidates and novice teachers must have ample opportunities to practice teaching with technology during their field experiences and student teaching.

A new paradigm for practice

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the connection between practice and success. Experts, he writes, do not “float effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did.” Gladwell believes dedicating an enormous amount of time to practice is one of the most important factors in developing excellence. As such, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

Educators concerned with developing expertise remind us that not all practice is created equal. In a recent blog post, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (2018), writes, “…at any level of skill, (if you) practice in the same way you always have you’ll get the same results you always have.” Applying a more purposeful and powerful conception of practice to educational technology calls for teacher educators and PK–12 mentor teachers to distinguish between time spent in repetitive activities to integrate research-based teaching from how time practicing is actually spent as a way to improve teaching with technology.

AACTE Committee Members Honored with Prestigious Research Award

Current and former members of the AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (I&T) were recognized with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2020 Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education (JDLTE) Outstanding Research Paper Award for their case study research, “TPACK Leadership Diagnostic Tool: Adoption and Implementation by Teacher Education Leaders(Clausen, Finsness, Borthwick, Graziano, Carpenter, & Herring, 2019). Recipients of the award include: Jon Clausen, Ball State University; Elizabeth Finsness, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Arlene Borthwick, National Louis University; Kevin Graziano, Nevada State College; Jeffrey Carpenter, Elon University; and Mary Herring, University of Northern Iowa. The research award affirms the long-term work and impact of the AACTE I&T Committee.

The case study examined how the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) leadership diagnostic tool was used by teacher education leaders who established and sustained organizational and learning environments for TPACK-based initiatives at three institutions. Participants indicated all components in the tool were relevant for planning and implementing their TPACK initiatives. Participants “used the diagnostic tool to engage with others about their initiatives, to consider how physical spaces and personnel could be repurposed in support of their initiatives, and to think critically about prioritizing competing political, financial, and contextual demands” (Clausen et al., 2019, p. 64).

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