Technology is not hardware or software. It is the powerful tools that learners can use to facilitate their own learning process. Teachers can use technology resources to provide opportunities for learning and create the "conditions that optimize learning" (Switzer, Callahan, & Quinn, 1999). Technology provides the means for the teacher to re-examine the nature of the classroom environment. The teacher is no longer the fount of all knowledge. Technology can provide access to sources beyond the classroom and the textbooks. The teacher can become the facilitator of learning, incorporating a host of strategies to guide learners. Technology opens the door to the world, allowing learners to access libraries, other learners and experts, and a vast array of resources to obtain the knowledge they seek.
As the title of the model Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education implies, technology plays an essential role in facilitating quality education.
Technology can be used to develop information processing skills and dispositions. Databases, simulations and access to the Internet can provide rich experiences and information as students acquire the skills and knowledge represented by the content standards. Students can also practice the tenets of democracy while engaging in technology mediated activities. (Switzer et al., 1999, pp. 12-13)
To ensure that technology is used to facilitate quality education, it is necessary to prepare preservice teachers with strategies for using technology appropriately. And to ensure that preservice teachers are prepared to use technology resources to provide learning opportunities, the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Teacher Education Faculty has developed the Preservice Teacher Technology Competencies, performance-based competencies modeled on several national standards documents (Krueger .et al., 2000). These national standards documents include the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Recommended Foundations in Technology for All Teachers, which were adopted by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Students; and the American Association of School Librarians and Association for Educational Communications and Technology Information Literacy Standards for Student Learning.
The competencies serve at several levels:
They provide guidance for the design of specific teacher education courses that incorporate technology.
They provide a diagnostic tool for teachers.
They help provide quality advising for teachers throughout their program of study.
They recognize the areas of proficiency that need to be updated.
The UNI Preservice Teacher Technology Competencies have three sections:
The first section is included because without these basic operational skills, we would not be able to use technology to process information and solve problems. Section 2 is included because technology tools are necessary to support information literacy (the ability to gather, analyze, and communicate information) for personal and professional reasons as well as for instructional purposes. Section 3 is included because most content areas have discipline-specific technology tools that are not important for use by all teachers. For example, it is important that mathematics teachers know how to integrate the graphing calculator into instruction.
The UNI Preservice Teacher Technology Competencies identify the areas of proficiency required by teachers in order to effectively use technology resources to provide opportunities for learning and create the conditions that optimize learning. Using the various levels, teachers find out where their strengths and weaknesses lie so that they can then address the weakness areas identified by the competencies.
Levels of Proficiency
Each competency is written in a format for student assessment with five defined levels of proficiency: (1) pre-novice, (2) novice/awareness, (3) apprentice/professional skill, (4) practitioner/curricular integration, and (5) expert/reflection. In all cases, pre-novice means no experience; novice means minimal experience; apprentice means experience doing something on a personal level; practitioner means experience using these resources to create learning opportunities; and expert means reflection upon the use of these resources to create learning opportunities. The levels of proficiency allow for teachers’ diverse backgrounds. The levels are designed to be progressive, allowing teachers to continually advance their level of proficiency as they move through their program of study.
Since the UNI competencies have five levels of proficiency, a five-point scale could be used to assess the competencies, with four points given for the expert level, three points for practitioner, two points for apprentice, one point for novice, and zero points for pre-novice.
As a result of identifying their own technology competency levels and working to advance to the practitioner and expert levels, teachers can improve their ability to use technology resources to provide opportunities for learning and create the "conditions that optimize learning." Teachers’ in-depth knowledge of technology resources will greatly enhance their ability to provide instruction that is relevant for today's classroom (Switzer et al., 1999).
American Association of School Librarians and Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1998). Information power: Building partnerships for learning. Chicago: American Library Association.
International Society for Technology in Education. (1998).National educational technology standards: Guiding the development of new learning environments for today's classrooms[On-line]. Available: http://cnets.iste.org/ [1999, May 25]
International Society for Technology in Education. (1998).Recommended foundations in technology for all teachers [On-line]. Available: http://www.iste.org/standards/ncate/index.html [1999, September 21]
Krueger, K., Hansen, L., Smaldino, S. (2000, April). Preservice teacher technology competencies. Tech Trends 44 (3) 47-50.
Switzer, T. J., Callahan, W. P., & Quinn, L. (1999, March).Technology as facilitator of quality education: An unfinished model. Paper presented at Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, San Antonio, TX.