The Preparation of Alternative Licensure Teachers: Bringing Technology into the Classroom through Distance Education
April Cleveland, Lynnae Flynn, David Haase, John C. Park, Brenda Wojnowski, North Carolina State University, United States
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA
As K-12 schools continue to add initial technology purchases and upgrades to their yearly budgets, the need for professional development for teachers increases as well. With a diverse and often distant population, web-based technology courses speak to the needs of these learners. By providing web-based instruction, participants are able to log on and interact with the course material at a time that is convenient to their individual schedules.
This study looks at the use of the web as a way to provide technology instruction to alternative licensure middle and high school teachers. The course, Technology Tools for Science Teachers, offered as a graduate level course at North Carolina State University, provides web instruction in a number of technology-related areas.
The Learning to Use Technology web site was constructed during the summer and fall of 2000 with the topics for the site taken from suggestions made by the Cumberland County, North Carolina science teachers. The web pages that made up the instructional modules were structured based on research that focused on web-based instruction. Thibodeau (1997) suggested that the content of a web site should be broken down into smaller units of instruction and the screen design should be simple and uncluttered. In addition, Thibodeau contends that web-based instruction can "teach content at least as effectively as traditional instruction" and reduces a number of negative aspects associated with continued learning and the updating of teaching skills.
In the spring of 2001, the web site was the foundation for a North Carolina State 3 credit distance-learning course entitled, Technology Tools for Science Teachers. This course was structured primarily for the Cumberland County teachers, but was also open to lateral entry teachers who were working towards their teacher certification. An online syllabus was developed which contained links to all the instructional modules, which were broken down into weekly instructional units. Each unit of web-based instruction spanned a week to two-week period.
The teachers were asked to provide a computer with Internet access and demonstrate proficiency in the prerequisites that were presented to the teachers before the start of the course. These prerequisites included the ability to navigate the web, access to e-mail and the ability to send and receive e-mail messages. In addition, the instructor stressed the importance of scheduling the time necessary to devote to learning the course materials and completing the assignments.
With the exception of the four face-to-face meetings, the course was web-based in nature. A course of this type addresses both the time and place constraints that often hinder teachers' continued professional progress (Huntley & Mather, 1999). An additional advantage to web based courses is the reinforcement of technology skills that are necessary in today's society (Chute, Thompson, & Hancock, 1999).
In addition to the online instruction, the teachers were provided with a technology kit that included all the necessary software and hardware to complete the assignments associated with the course. The kits contained a digital still camera, a LabPro and Calculator-Based Laboratories interface, probes and sensors which were compatible with the LabPro and Calculator-Based Laboratories, and software which included Dreamweaver 4, Adobe Photoshop LE, and much more. Vernier Software and Technology provided the LabPro and Calculator-Based Laboratories interfaces, probes, and sensors for 16 of the technology kits.
Besides allowing the teachers to complete the assignments, the technology kits gave the teachers hands-on experience with technology tools they could use with their students during the duration of the course. Teachers were also provided with a stipend, which covered the cost of the course, but were not notified of this until the course was in its final week. This reduced the possibility that teachers would sign up for the course because of the stipend involved which would give us a more representative set of teachers who may reflect the characteristics of future participants.
Assessment The evaluation process transverses several phases: ·Pre-Survey-self report measure on their technological expertise. ·Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) ·Pretest and Post-Test for each instructional unit. ·Simmons Emotional Intelligence Survey ·Post-Survey- self report measure on their technological expertise. ·Web Portfolio of their accomplishments during the semester. The pretest was used to determine previous knowledge as it related to each unit of instruction. WebAssign was used for the pretest administration as well as for several of the assignments and post-test administration. WebAssign is a web-based program that collects, grades, and provides feedback as a means for instructors to evaluate their students' progress. WebAssign can be set to provide student feedback in varying degrees. For this course, WebAssign was configured to provide only a grade to the student after the pretest was administered to the students.
A post-test was administered after each unit of instruction was completed to determine the level of knowledge acquisition from the start of each unit until it was completed. Feedback on the post-test was more elaborate in nature in comparison to the pretest and included a key as well as the student responses. This enabled the students to compare their responses to the correct responses for each question.
Also included as an evaluative tool were two to three assignments for each instructional unit. The completed assignments were delivered to the instructor in different formats that included e-mail file attachment, uploading a file to the listserv, using WebAssign, and uploading web pages to web space with the URL provided to the instructor via e-mail. The majority of the assignments and projects built on the previous assignments and culminated in a web portfolio that incorporated the majority of the skills developed during the duration of the course. Results
Each student reported a gain in technological expertise from the administration of the pre-survey to the administration of the post-survey, a fourteen-week period. A gain was also noted in the content knowledge pre and post-test, which were developed for each instructional unit with the exception of one area in which they were already well versed. In addition, the overall student impression of the course was quite favorable. The comments focused on the ability to work at one's own pace and not spend time and money to commute to campus to participate in the course. The following are just a few of the positive statements made by the teachers in a final evaluation: ·I enjoyed the flexibility of the course. ·The course was very adaptable to my busy schedule. ·The web page resources were very helpful and informative.
The entrance survey also contained several open-ended questions, which asked the students about expectations for the course and whether they had participated in a distance-learning course previously. Out of 11 students, only four had previously participated in a distance learning type course, but they all had similar expectations. They wanted to become proficient in the use of technology so they could share this expertise with their students.
The exit survey also contained several open-ended questions. The first asked if the teachers would take another distance learning course. The second questioned whether their expectations for this course had been met. Ten of the 11 students responded that they would take another distance learning course and that their expectations for the course had been met or exceeded.
Personality variables were also measured with the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Simmons Emotional Intelligence Survey to indicate student success in the course. There were high correlations between personality characteristics and predictors of the success in the course. In addition, the degree of direction or self-motivation correlated highly with the level of benefit a student derived from the course. Lastly, a strong negative correlation was observed between self-esteem and the timely submission of assignments.
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Learning to Use Technology: Available online: http://www.ncsu.edu/sciencejunction/route/usetech/
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U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics. (1999). Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers, NCES 1999-080, by Lewis L., Parsad, B., Carey, N., Bartfai, N., Farris, E., & Smerdon, B., Green B., project officer. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Cleveland, A., Flynn, L., Haase, D., Park, J.C. & Wojnowski, B. (2002). The Preparation of Alternative Licensure Teachers: Bringing Technology into the Classroom through Distance Education. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 2390-2392). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).