INTIME Technology Grant Project: Final Report
on Integration of Technology into the Methods of Education
Preface & Contextual Factors
As a first year faculty member at Longwood in the fall of 1999, I began my involvement with the INTIME grant and volunteered to serve as the campus coordinator when asked by my department chair. The dean of the education department offered continual guidance to me over the next three years, since this was my first encounter with a federally funded grant. I have learned a great deal not only about INTIME and the deficiencies in teacher preparation programs that it aims to address, but also about the challenges inherent in diffusing an innovation in educational settings. I will address several of these challenges throughout the report, with particular emphasis on those that I perceived to be most problematic for my colleagues and me. It should also be noted that prior to spring 2000, Longwood still taught methods courses on campus. Beginning spring 2000, methods courses moved to Partnership schools situated in four rural counties surrounding Longwood.
The INTIME faculty training session in October, 2000 prepared me to integrate the INTIME technology grant resources into one course taught during the fall 2001 semester and again in the spring 2002 semester. The course, EDUC 325-Elementary Reading and Language Arts (now renamed Teaching Reading and Language Arts in the Elementary School), is offered as a regular, 6-credit, full semester class for junior level students in the Longwood Liberal Studies/Elementary Education program. In addition, this course is part of Longwood's Partnership semester and is taught in a local public school along with two other Partnership courses. Twelve students participated in fall 2001 and sixteen students participated in spring 2002, for a total of twenty-eight students. This off-campus methods teaching arrangement with the local counties -- which affected all participating faculty -- significantly impacted our ability to fully integrate INTIME resources into our methods courses. An additional influence was Longwood's involvement with the Renaissance Teacher Work Sample project. Most of the coursework assignments centered around the completion of a work sample, which took a minimum of ten weeks to finish.
In retrospect, the results of our INTIME involvement would have been quite different had the methods courses been taught on campus in classrooms equipped with sufficient hardware, software and technical support. All of the elementary education faculty members taught in rural public school classrooms with little or no technology available. Some methods classrooms were not wired at all with no access to computers much less the Internet. My methods classroom was wired for the Internet, and the principal gave me and my students one computer to use; however, we were not able to access the INTIME web site from the classroom. My students used either their own personal computers or the campus computer labs to view the INTIME videos. Two other factors should also be mentioned when assessing our involvement: 1) due to the faculty's off-campus placements, the bulk of our time was spent in the local elementary school. Our weekday times on campus were quite limited, thereby restricting our use of the INTIME project web site and discussion forums; and 2) each rural elementary school varied greatly in their available technology resources for teachers, staff, students and the Partnership students and professor.
On an operational level, the partnership schools arrangement affected the participating INTIME faculty and our subsequent involvement with the grant negatively because we simply could not model the effective use of technology. This is exactly what the NCATE (1997) report identifies as one of five reasons for the lack of technology integrated in teacher education courses. Several of our faculty are very proficient in the use of technology, and all of us view technology as a vital tool in instructional design and implementation; however, physical and logistical constraints strongly influenced what we were able to do. Consequently, we did what was feasible in our respective rural settings to address this disconnect: 1) discussed technology integration with students and required that they design lessons integrating technology; and 2) structured a course project or assignment requiring the use of INTIME video resources.
As with all innovations, our INTIME involvement produced some unintended, yet positive outcomes. Students vicariously viewed new technologies, such as the Smart Board, thereby raising their awareness of novel applications. The videos also exposed students to a broad array of technologies in use in real classrooms. The classroom teachers featured in the videos modeled effective integration for the preservice teachers at the Practitioner and Expert levels as identified in the pre- and posttest Preservice Teacher Technology Competencies instrument. Lastly, viewing the INTIME videos offered an opportunity for young professionals to collaborate and exercise their emerging professional judgements about what constitutes effective lessons. This collaborative feature of INTIME serves to promote collective, instructional decision- making; consequently, it offers an alternative model to a persistent academic culture that promotes individuality among teachers vs. collective vision.
Implementation of the Project
A number of EDUC 325 course objectives aligned with INTIME standards, and they are categorized below. Additionally, through a course assignment, three specific course objectives were met: 1) students will explain how technology enhances literacy development; 2) students will collaborate with special education teacher candidates to modify lessons for exceptional learners; and 3) students will evaluate the use of instructional technology as one option in an array of instructional methods.
In order to met these objectives, Dr. Ruth Meese, special education professor, and I decided to pair our students in the fall semester of 2001 so that they could view a video and assess the effectiveness of it with all kinds of learners. Both of our courses centered around elementary language arts, and our students were junior-level preservice teachers. Dr. Meese and I identified Lauie Sybert's Dinosaur lesson as an appropriate language arts video to evaluate and asked our students to answer the following questions in a three to five page report:
- What are the lesson objectives?
- How is the technology integrated into the lesson?
- Is it essential to achieve the lesson objectives?
- What will all children get from this lesson? Some children? A few children?
- What modifications are needed to address the needs of all children and their success?
For the spring of 2002, Dr. Meese and I did not collaborate because she only teachers her class in the fall. Consequently, I kept the same format for the INTIME assignment but had my students pair up among themselves in the EDUC 325 course. They still answered the same questions about "Dinosaurs" and produced a three to five page report.
Course Objectives Aligned with INTIME Standards:
- explain the principles for effective literacy lessons.
- understand the importance of developmentally appropriate practices for literacy development.
- explain the role that motivation, aptitude, and interest has in learning to read.
- explain the various teaching techniques used for developing a literacy curriculum.
- explain how technology enhances literacy development.
- explain how to use technology in literacy lesson planning.
- explain the importance of integrating various aspects of technology within the curriculum.
- design literacy activities that will enhance learners' growth and build on their sense of self as learners.
- demonstrate how teachers use traditional and current practices to organize and manage for effective literacy instruction.
- examine and critique how technology is used to enhance literacy development.
- appreciate the contributions of various disciplines to the understanding of literacy instruction.
- view oneself as a researcher of teaching and learning and as a professional whose continued growth can best be met through inquiry, reflection and sustained dialogue with peers.
- appreciate the need to motivate students to become life long readers, writers, and problem solvers.
Evaluation of Project
The EDUC 325 students participated in the pre-and post-testing on-line for fall 2001 and through hardcopy testing in spring 2002. The pretest results identified Longwood students as Level 2 (Apprentice level) technology users. The posttest showed no change with all students maintaining their Apprentice status. This result is not surprising because most students enter Longwood with advanced technology skills as assessed by Longwood's freshmen and senior technology competency instrument. Also, it should be noted that two-thirds of EDUC 325 students from both semesters come from more affluent Virginia urban and suburban areas. Not only have they had more access to technology resources, they also went to schools where technology was integrated and modeled.
Results from informal, in-class evaluations of student participation in the INTIME Project are mixed. As mentioned in the "Preface & Contextual Factors" section of this report, the mixed results from both students and faculty were heavily influenced by the physical and logistical constraints created by teaching the methods courses in Partnership rural schools. Similar to the feedback received by other INTIME faculty, students articulated advantages and disadvantages to using the INTIME video resources. These pluses and minuses are evident in the faculty responses as well. Some advantages include the following:
- exposure to new technologies and their classroom applications (ex. SmartBoard)
- watching strong teachers model effective uses of technology; "Best Practices"
- collaborating with other education students to evaluate the P-12 videos
- using the video lessons as resources for their own planning (ex. one student used L. Sybert's "Dinosaurs" as a resource for her integrated thematic unit on dinosaurs; I also plan to use INTIME videos in the future for my methods courses)
- guidance from technology GA's in accessing videos
- one-on-one technical support from technology GA's in assisting methods faculty
Some disadvantages include the following:
- watching a vicarious remote image that has been edited; mediated experience vs. real-time experience in Partnership classrooms
- access to hardware and software for viewing the videos
- disconnect and between Longwood's teacher education model, the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model, and the Teacher Work Sample model
- piloting the teacher work sample project while simultaneously joining the INTIME project with its requirements
For my part, it is only now, after two semesters of integrating INTIME into my methods courses that I feel I have time to reflect upon the significance of this experience. Likewise, I feel the undergraduate preservice teachers will realize the value of their INTIME involvement later, when they are not immersed in the day-to-day planning that their internship required. When Longwood's teacher preparation program adds teacher work sample development to the student teaching semester (fall 2003), I see INTIME resources as providing a strong support for designing effective lessons that integrate technology. Since students will have encountered INTIME in their junior year, they will be more likely to use it in their senior year.
Overall, despite the dissonance and resistance that many innovations face, I feel INTIME has been a valuable experience for Longwood's methods faculty and preservice teachers. Our students found more relevance and meaning through their rural classroom placements and developing their individual teacher work samples than they did with their INTIME project. Methods faculty were also swept up in the learning curve for implementing teacher work samples. But that does not discount the value of INTIME. We would have certainly desired a higher degree of involvement with INTIME's extensive resources at both the faculty and student level; however, given our particular constraints I feel we utilized the resources sufficiently and learned a tremendous amount in the process. We were able to use a state-of-the-art resource and by doing so, discovered that even though the grant has ended, we now have a well-developed resource from which we can continue to learn and grow. INTIME involvement has helped us in our individual and collective professional development and has shown us what is possible in terms of technology integration along with the components of a quality education. I especially appreciated the unifying features of the Technology As Facilitator of Quality Education Model because of its comprehensive, integrative structure, and its ability to illustrate the integrative and interactive nature of all learning and teaching.
My final observation is that INTIME has contributed significantly to systematic improvements in the preparation of tomorrow's teachers to use technology. And as with any innovation in educational settings, that happens incrementally and by degrees. The entire INTIME project developers and staff are to be commended for their outstanding effort to effect change in teacher education preparation.