Few would disagree that information technologies are having, and will continue to have, major impacts on how we view teaching and learning at all grade levels and for all subject areas. Many educators wonder, however, how information technology can best be used to facilitate an education appropriate for the 21st century while enhancing student achievement in core areas deemed important to our democratic society. And equally important, how can pre-service teachers be prepared to integrate this technology into their methods of instruction to optimize learning for all students?
The INTIME Project
The INTIME Project (funded by a federal PT3 grant, Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology, awarded to the University of Northern Iowa) is a three-year project designed to change how teacher education programs prepare pre-service teachers to use technology effectively in the PreK-12 classroom. The main focus of the project is to provide the necessary resources for university methods faculty to revise their courses, model technology integration in their methods courses, and require their pre-service students to integrate technology into lessons.
The INTIME Project began with the development of a model that addresses the questions raised in the introduction of this paper. The model, "Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education" (TFQE) serves as a roadmap for determining how technology can best be used to facilitate an education appropriate for the 21st century. The model includes seven major dimensions organized in a circular fashion to show their interconnections: 1. students at the center of their own learning; 2. principles of good learning; 3. aspects of information processing; 4. standards from content disciplines; 5. tenets of effective citizenship in a democratic society; 6. teacher knowledge and behavior; and 7. technology (see figure 1).
The technology segment of the model presents technology competencies that identify areas of proficiency required by pre-service teachers to effectively use technology resources to provide learning opportunities and create the conditions that optimize learning.
In addition to the model, the INTIME Project provided university methods faculty members with several important tools for revising methods courses to better integrate technology. One of the most unique and useful tools, located at the INTIME website
(http://www.intime.uni.edu/), is a video library showing PreK-12 teachers effectively integrating technology with the components of quality education identified in the project's model. Using Real Player 8.0 software, professors can show pre-service students actual case studies of effective integration of technology into a wide variety of subject areas and grade levels. These videos provide a great stimulus for discussion, and have been well received by pre-service students.
This paper will share the experiences of one university methods faculty member in using the INTIME Project model and tools to teach pre-service teachers, to integrate technology into their instructional methods in a course titled “Health Education in the Elementary Grades.”.
Review of the Literature
A review of the literature used to develop the essential elements of quality education for the TFQE model answers questions regarding a support for the shift in our educational activities toward technology and how the model can prepare pre-service teachers to integrate technology effectively into their instruction.
Students at the Center of Their Own Learning
The TFQE model revolves around the central element of "student-centered learning (SCL), [which] places the student (learner) in the center of the learning process. In student-centered learning students are active participants in their learning rather than passive recipients; students learn at their own pace and use their own strategies..." (Learner-Centered Classrooms, Problem Based Learning and the Construction of Understanding and Meaning, 1999).
Student-centered learning is distinguished from teacher-centered learning or instruction that is characterized by the transmission of information from a knowledge expert (teacher) to a relatively passive recipient (student/learner) or consumer (McCombs & Whisler, 1997). By putting students at the center of their own learning, we blend these various components into a unique learning system, a system that allows us to view the complicated process that is learning and its individual parts.
According to Stiggins (1997), "The most valuable lesson we have learned in recent years from those studying cognitive processes is that rote memorization does not ensure understanding, and thus is not a powerful way to promote learning" (p. 257).
The construction of knowledge means that the learner links new information with existing and future-oriented knowledge in unique and meaningful ways (McCombs, 1997, p.5). Although knowledge acquisition processes are needed to form the base, that knowledge is useful to the degree it can be applied or used to create new knowledge (Marzano et al., 1988, p.33). Learning and self-esteem are heightened when individuals are in respectful and caring relationships with others who see their potential, genuinely appreciate their unique talents, and accept them as individuals (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).
For student-centered learning to occur, high quality classroom management is needed. Woolfolk (2001) cited three reasons for the importance of such a management system: to allocate more time for learning, to give more access to learning, and to help students develop their self-management.
Principles of Learning
This second essential element in the Technology as a Facilitator of Quality Education model includes aspects of what we now know about learning. Current research in cognitive science has suggested that big differences exist between knowledge based on recall and deeper forms of understanding. Ewell (1997) described seven insights about learning:
- Active Involvement – The learner is not a "receptacle" of knowledge, but rather creates his or her learning actively and uniquely.
- Patterns & Connections – Learning is about each individual learner making meaning by establishing and reworking patterns, relationships, and connections.
- Informal Learning – Every student learns all the time both in “formal” education and in informal learning situations out of direct interactions with complex environments and a range of “cues” from peers and mentors.
- Direct Experience – Direct experience decisively shapes individual understanding that certainly lends credence to educators’ efforts to create active student engagement in any teaching situation.
- Compelling Situation – Maximum learning tends to occur when people are confronted with specific, identifiable problems that they want to solve and that are within their power to solve.
- Reflection – Building lasting cognitive connections requires sizeable periods of reflective activity, meaning that effective learning situations need to include thinking time.
- Enjoyable Setting – Effective learning, which is social and interactive, occurs best in a cultural context that provides enjoyable interactions and substantial personal support.
Aspects of Information Processing
Developing the dispositions and skills necessary for informed information processing has become a necessary component of education in an information age. Switzer, Callahan, and Quinn (1999) suggested using The Pathways to Knowledge model (Pappas &Tepe, 1997) that allows users to see how contemporary technology influences the individual parts of their model and to view the parts as a coherent element of the TFQE model. The component parts of the process include:
- Appreciation – of literature, arts, nature, and information through varied multiple formats (stories, film, paintings, natural settings, music, books, periodicals, the Web, video, etc.)
- Presearch – Making connections between a topic, question, or information need and the searcher’s prior knowledge.
- Search – Identifying appropriate information providers, resources and tools; planning and implementing a search strategy.
- Interpretation – Assessing the usefulness and quality of their information gathered and reflecting to develop personal meaning.
- Communication – Organizing, applying, and presenting new knowledge relevant to the searcher’s research. Choosing a format that reflects the new knowledge; plan and create the product.
- Evaluation – Evaluating by both self and peers at each stage of this nonlinear information process model (Pappas & Tepe, 1997).
Standards from Content Disciplines
In recent years, content standards have been developed for almost all of the discipline areas, including health education, either by teams from the disciplines themselves or by agencies in various states (Switzer, Callahan, & Quinn, 1999). These content standards serve as a third dimension of effective learning and integration of technology using the TFQE model. Content standards in the model are explained for the arts, foreign language/ESL, health education, physical education, language arts, math, social studies, science, vocational education, and other areas.
Tenets of Effective Citizenship in a Democratic Society
Research on the tenets of democracy in a robust learning environment show great similarity between what we know about good classrooms and what we know about democracy. At the heart of our education system is the preparation of students to lead productive lives consistent with the basic tenets of a democratic society. Unfortunately, most schools and classrooms are not organized to consciously promote democratic disposition and skills. The basic tenets of democratic schools and classrooms include the following, which serve as the fourth component of the TFQE model:
- Tolerance - The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others (The American Heritage Dictionary, 1982).
- Critical Thinking and Decision Making – People who think critically proceed on the basis of careful evaluation of the premises and evidence and come to conclusions as objectively as possible by considering all pertinent factors and using valid logical procedures (Good, 1973). To think critically, citizens must gather necessary information using inquiry skills (observe, describe, compare, identify, etc.) and avoiding common problems in logic (for instance, getting personal, making false comparisons, saying things everyone will like, arguing in circles etc.) (Callahan, 1998). Then citizens must decide on the reliability of the information that they use as evidence to support their positions on complex social problems. Decision-making in democracies is a process of reaching agreement in a group situation through dialogue, discussion, debate, and analysis (Callahan, 1998).
- Thinking Together and Making Meaning – Citizens must decide how to deal with complex social problems: how to define the problem, what values should be pursued, what public policies should be supported, what candidates should be elected to office, what actions should be taken with respect to social concerns (Engle & Ochoa, 1988, p. 61). Steiner (as cited in Lipset, 1995) argued that in a democratic society as many people as possible should be involved in making decisions to help sharpen the issues and check the soundness of the arguments. The discipline of team learning starts with dialogue and the capacity of team members to suspend assumptions and enter into genuine "thinking together" (Senge, 1990).
- Power Sharing and Empowerment – Empowerment is "the opportunity and means to effectively participate and share authority" (Bastian, Fruchter, Gittell, Greer, & Haskins, as cited in Simon, 1987, p. 374). Empowerment can lead to rapid intellectual growth (Hill, 2000, p. 61) and the ability to deal with complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity.
- Individual Responsibility and Civil Involvement with Others – These traits will grow with the opportunities in a democracy to share the mutual tasks for the orderliness and welfare of the group and for personal independence (Good, 1973). Hollingshead (1941) noted that democracy is not solely a political organization, but rather a social relationship, a conscious striving on the part of each member for the advancement of the common welfare; a shared responsibility with individual accountability (pp. 17-18).
Teacher Knowledge and Behavior
This essential element of the TFQE model describes the following components of an effective teacher in any subject area: knowledge of student characteristics, teachers’ in-depth content knowledge, classroom management, and pedagogy.
Teacher Knowledge: Student Characteristics – Research has revealed the importance of adjusting learning activities to the learner. The closer the match between students’ learning styles and their teachers’ teaching styles, the higher the grade point average (Dunn, R., Griggs, Olson, Gorman, & Beasley, 1995). A Learning Style Model (R. Dunn & Griggs, 1995) revealed that students are affected by five main factors: their immediate environment, their own emotionality, their sociological preferences, their physiological characteristics, and their processing inclination. Accommodating instruction to these styles is much easier with the rich resources available thru various technologies.
Practitioners throughout the United States have reported statistically higher test scores or grade point averages for students who changed from traditional teaching to learning-style teaching at all levels – elementary, secondary, and college (Brunner & Majewski, as cited in Shaughnessy, 1998; Alberg, Cook, Fiore, Friend, & Sano, 1992).
Teacher Knowledge: Teachers In-Depth Content Knowledge – To teach all students according to today’s standards, teachers need to understand subject matter deeply and flexibly so they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate one idea to another, and address misconceptions. Teachers need to see how ideas connect across fields and to everyday life and then assist their students in seeing these connections. This kind of understanding provides a foundation for pedagogical content knowledge that enables teachers to make ideas accessible to others (Shulman, 1987, 1986). "If beginning teachers are to be successful, they must wrestle simultaneously with issues of pedagogical content (or knowledge) as well as general pedagogy (or generic teaching principles)" (Grossman, as cited in Ornstein, Thomas, & Lasley, 2000, p. 508).
Teacher Behavior: Classroom Management – School and classroom management aims to encourage and establish student self-control by promoting positive student achievement and behavior. Thus academic achievement, teacher efficacy, and teacher and student behavior are directly linked with the concept of school and classroom management (Froyen & Iverson, 1999). Classroom management focuses on content management, conduct management, and covenant management.
Teacher Behavior: Pedagogy – The professional teaching standards represent the teaching profession’s consensus on the critical aspects of the art and science of teaching (pedagogy) that characterize accomplished teachers in various fields, including health education. Effective teachers display skills at creating curriculum designed to build on students' present knowledge and understanding and move them to more sophisticated and in-depth abilities, knowledge, concepts, and performances. Health education teachers employ a range of instructional strategies and resources to match the variety of student skills. They observe and assess students in the context of ongoing classroom life. They understand and respect diversity in students’ cultures, values, languages, and family backgrounds (National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, 1998).
Technology is the set of the powerful tools that the teacher and learner can use to facilitate his/her own learning process. Technology resources can be used to provide opportunities for learning and create the "conditions that optimize learning" (Switzer, Callahan, & Quinn, 1999).
To ensure that technology is used to facilitate quality education, the key elements of the TFQE model need to be matched with a set of standards for the appropriate uses of technology. The INTIME project uses the Pre-service Teacher Technology Competencies, performance-based competencies modeled on several national standards documents, developed by the UNI Teacher Education faculty. These technology competencies include: Basic Technology Equipment Operations and Concepts, Technology Resources and Tools for Information Literacy, and Technology Resources and Tools for Content Areas.
Course Revision Design
The main focus of the INTIME Project was to provide the necessary resources for university methods faculty to revise their courses, model technology integration in their methods courses, and require their pre-service students to integrate technology into lessons. To meet these goals, the researcher made a number of revisions in the elementary health education methods course using the TFQE model, the INTIME online video library, and other online health education resources.
The Health Education methods course was revised to become a web-enhanced course, with a detailed online syllabus provided to students at the beginning of the semester. Students were also provided voluntary access to an on-line, secure, free grade book (www.elearning.ecollege.com) that allowed students to monitor their course grades. The researcher kept several email offices hours each week, and encouraged students to communicate with each other and the researcher using email. Additionally, the course was taught in one of the College of Education’s “smart” classrooms. The classroom contained a multimedia computer system with an internet connection, a ceiling mounted projector system, an Elmo visual presenter, and a computerized white board. The system also contained CD, DVD and video projection equipment.
The researcher set four specific goals for revising the elementary health education methods course. The first goal stated that pre-service students would understand the TFQE Model. To address this goal, the researcher introduced the TFQE model early in the semester. A live Internet connection allowed the model to be projected during class from the INTIME web site. Students were shown how the INTIME web site model functioned, and were given a mini lecture on the content of the model. Students were then given a homework assignment to go to the INTIME web site and review each segment of the model. Students were also asked to write a paragraph summarizing the model in their own words, focusing on how the information would influence their teaching. At the next class, students were asked to share their paragraphs in small groups. Following the small group discussion, the researcher led a large group discussion focusing on how technology can be used as a tool to facilitate quality education. Special emphasis was given to the student at the center of his/her learning, principles of learning, and information processing as they relate to the national health education standards. Written paragraphs were collected for evaluation purposes.
The second course revision goal stated that pre-service students would evaluate the emotional environment of a classroom using the INTIME video library as a tool. The emotional environment of the classroom is a standard unit in the elementary health education methods course. The INTIME videos were used to illustrate how elementary classroom teachers implement strategies that enhance the emotional environment in their classroom. The videos of classroom teachers allowed the pre-service teachers to easily visualize the concepts they read about in their textbook.
The researcher presented the regular unit on creating an emotionally healthy classroom environment. At the end of the unit, the researcher used a live Internet connection to project one of the INTIME videos on the computerized white board. Students were asked to look for examples of the characteristics of an emotionally healthy classroom environment while watching the video. Following the video, the researcher led a large group discussion, highlighting examples from the video. As a follow-up homework assignment, students were asked to visit the INTIME web site and view another INTIME video. Students were directed to use a researcher-designed checklist to help them evaluate the video for characteristics of an emotionally healthy classroom environment. Checklists were collected at the next class for evaluation purposes.
The third course revision goal stated that pre-service students would be able to locate and use web-based resources for teaching health education to elementary students. The web-based course syllabus was revised to include recommended web resources. Resources included health-related information sources for background reading, descriptions of the national health education standards, sources for appropriate health education lesson plans, and interactive health web sites appropriate for elementary age students. The researcher used some of these links for instruction, modeling how the resources could be used in teaching. Other links were used as homework assignments to encourage students to become familiar with using the resources.
Unfortunately, there were no INTIME videos that showed an actual elementary health education lesson being taught. This was a barrier to helping students understand how technology can enhance elementary health education lessons. In an attempt to use the INTIME videos in a lesson related to health education content, the researcher showed the INTIME video “Giving ‘Em the Business” and described how this social studies lesson could have easily integrated a nutrition lesson into the project. In one scene students are seen making several food items (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn, and trail mix) to market and sell to their classmates. The video clearly demonstrated food-handling problems, as students were not wearing rubber gloves when they handled the food, and the food was often placed directly onto desks, rather than onto clean plates. Issues of food handling and food inspection in restaurants would have been a timely addition to the lesson. Additionally, the elementary students could have been encouraged to add a health component to the marketing aspect of the project. Throughout the health education methods course, pre-service students are encouraged to think about ways to integrate health education into other subject areas. Using the INTIME video to brainstorm possible health education integration points gave students a real life example to wrestle with.
The final course revision goal stated that pre-service students would use technology to teach a health lesson. This goal was accomplished in two major ways. First, early in the semester pre-service students were assigned to a group with five or six other students. Each group was assigned to teach a specific elementary health education lesson to the methods class on a specific date. All of the elementary health education lesson plans were from the HealthTeacher.com web site. This web site provides a free, comprehensive, K-12, health education curriculum with lesson plans designed to meet the national health education standards. Class time was provided for groups to meet, plan and practice the HealthTeacher.com lesson they were assigned. Additionally, students were encouraged to use technology to teach their assigned lesson. The researcher met with each small group and taught them how to run the multi-media computer equipment and computerized white board. Three class periods were used for the actual group teaching experience. The group teachings were followed by a discussion of strengths and weakness of the lessons taught.
Students were also given an assignment to teach an elementary health education lesson to a real class of elementary students. In consultation with an elementary school classroom teacher, students chose a lesson plan and taught the health education lesson. Students were encouraged to use lessons from HealthTeacher.com and several other online health education lesson plan sources. Students were required to write a teaching reflection paper describing their teaching experience. During the final two classes of the semester, students shared their teaching experiences with the class during informal presentations.
The researcher separately evaluated each course revision goal. Additionally, the INTIME Project required the Pre-Service Teacher Technology Competencies Test be administered as a pre- and post-test. The results of each of these evaluation is presented here.
Pre-Service Teacher Technology Competencies Test
Results from the Pre-Service Teacher Technology Competencies Test revealed that over one quarter of the pre-service elementary health education methods course students reported positive changes in their perceptions of their ability to use technology for teaching. These results are actually quite good if you consider both the context of the elementary health education course and the types of questions asked by the Pre-Service Teacher Technology Competencies Test. The elementary health education course is a two-credit hour course that is usually one of the first methods courses taken by elementary education majors. Students typically enter this course with little background in either health content or teaching knowledge and skills. Surprisingly, many of these pre-service students were also inexperienced computer and web users. Because the course is only two credit hours, the researcher was limited in terms of the amount of classroom time that could be used for instruction in the use of general equipment and software packages. The Pre-Service Teacher Technology Competencies Test measured a large number of variables that could not be addressed by this researcher in the course revision.
Course Revision Goals
Based upon specific evaluations linked to the course revision goals set by the researcher, students clearly demonstrated an increased appreciation for the use of technology for teaching, and skills in using the web as a source of health education teaching resources.
Goal 1: Understanding the TFQE Model
Student paragraphs describing the main points of the TFQE Model indicated a good understanding that technology is a tool that can be used to enhance quality education. The following are a sample of paragraphs written by pre-service students after studying the TFQE Model at the INTIME web site.
“The INTIME Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model outlines how technology can be used to improve learning and how teachers can implement technology and its use to further learning. The model focuses on the many aspects of learning, which include cognitive, social, and emotional aspects. It also outlines the standards for each subject area and defines goals and objectives of learning. Learning is a process and it can happen through a variety of different experiences. This model emphasizes technology use in as many of these situations as possible to maximize and/or increase learning potential. The model is comprehensive, describing technology uses for the betterment of learning in an individual’s life, a group (classroom) setting, and the global environment.”
“I think the main idea of the Quality Education Model shows the new direction of education going to student centered education instead of teacher centered education. The technology and teacher knowledge is available to help students learn to be democratic citizens, process the information they acquire in the content standards area and to learn by different principles of learning, such as letting the experience of the students come into the classroom.”
“This model is a way of integrating technology into the classroom. The model is centered around students doing their own learning. It gets them involved and has them doing things that interest them such as surfing the Internet for information instead of merely looking through books. Teachers are an essential part of this model because they make the information available to the students so that they are willing to use the technology of today to their advantage.”
“The main idea of the Quality Education Model is to show that there are many ways for teachers to help children learn to their highest potential by using different techniques of technology. Instead of just lecturing to the students, the students should be interacting with the teacher and his/her peers in order to learn a lesson. When a classroom is set up to have a technological environment, the teachers’ input and help is still going to be needed. The technology is only there to give both the students and the teacher a helping hand.”
Goal 2: Evaluating the Emotional Environment of the Classroom
The researcher was successful in showing one of the INTIME videos during class time. Students were very interested in watching the video, and were able to correctly identify the most important aspects depicted of an emotionally healthy classroom.
Students were also asked to watch a second INTIME video as homework, and analyze it for characteristics of an emotionally healthy classroom. A review of pre-service students’ emotionally healthy classroom environment check sheets confirms that students who were able to view the INTIME videos were also able to identify aspects of an emotionally healthy classroom environment in those videos. However, technological problems kept many students from being able to access the online videos at the INTIME web site. Two main problems were identified. First, many students did not have the RealPlayer software on their computers and were unable to follow the instructions at the INTIME web site to download the software. A second problem related to the slow Internet modem connection that many students had to deal with on home computers. A vast majority of the students gave up and did not complete this out-of-class assignment.
Goal 3: Locate and Use Web Based Resources for Elementary Health Education
The researcher was able to locate and link many web resources to the online course syllabus. Of the 10 health content units taught, 8 contained links to external health education resources. These resources were used during class and as homework assignments.
Goal 4: Pre-service Students will Use Technology to Teach a Health Lesson
All students worked in groups to teach a health lesson to the class. Each group used a web-based health education lesson plan from HealthTeacher.com, and most groups used the Elmo Visual Presenter during their presentations. The visual presenter was used as an overhead projector and was also used to project storybooks that were read to the class as part of the lesson.
Additionally, each pre-service student was assigned to teach a health lesson to an elementary classroom. Over 90 percent of pre-service students chose health education lesson plans from the web resources identified in class. Very few students, however, had an opportunity to use much technology when they taught in the elementary classrooms. During the in-class sharing of teaching reflections, students consistently described teaching in classrooms that had minimal multimedia equipment, other than an overhead projector. K-12 schools, like universities, are gradually improving teacher access to technology. Hopefully, in the near future more pre-service students will find teaching experiences that will offer them opportunities to practice using technology.
Recommendations and Conclusions
Participation in the INTIME Project resulted in many important gains for both the researcher and the pre-service students in the elementary health education methods courses. Most students were pleased to have a web-based course syllabus that linked them to important teaching resources. Students also gained an important perspective from interacting with the TFQE Model. They learned that technology is a teaching tool that can be used, like any teaching tool, to support quality education. The focus must be on how to use the technology to enhance learning.
Students reacted favorably to the INTIME videos viewed in class. It was very helpful to view real teachers using technology to teach, and at the same time creating an emotionally healthy classroom environment.
Students also liked having the use of technology modeled throughout the course. This helped them to gradually become more experienced with using web resources and computerized multi-media teaching systems.
There were some problem areas noted in implementing the INTIME Project. Recommendations for improving the project include the following:
- Locate and videotape several elementary teachers using technology to teach health education. This would greatly enhance the usefulness of the video library for health education professional preparation programs.
- Consider using a different software program for the video library. There are many problems with using RealPlayer software. This is an important barrier to using the video library, especially for pre-service students whose computers may lack memory and high-speed internet connections.
In conclusion, the INTIME Project has made important contributions to the availability of tools for teaching pre-service students how to use technology, to enhance the learning process, both for themselves and for their future students. The TFQE model and the library of videos has the potential to enhance our ability to prepare quality teachers for the 21st century.
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