Wednesday, June 10, 2009

20th Century Methods for "21st Century" Teacher Education

The June 1, 2009 special report from eSchoolNews on 21st-Century Teacher Education , that was supposed to highlight progress being made in teacher pre-service programs, unfortunately exposes the truth about the lack of progress.

Before even reading the article the tag line raises some concerns, "Responding to a key need, schools of education are ramping up efforts to prepare future teachers to integrate technology into their instruction." On the surface this may look like progress, but I read "ramping up efforts" as code for "just getting started".

Even more concerning is this notion that what is needed in the 21st century is for teachers to "integrate technology into their instruction". I read this as "force technology into existing instructional practices" rather than leverage technology to facilitate fundamental improvements in how student learning is done and how it is supported by educators. The article confirmed my concerns, leading with the example of a teacher using a SMARTboard. The SMARTboard is the kind of technology that easily integrates into 19th century pedagogy.

Rather than learn how to inject technology into the 19th century model educators should be preparing to contribute to a model of education where The Student is the Class, a model that takes advantage of technologies for virtual learning, online simulation, individualized learning plans, adaptive assessment of learning, and educator-learner collaboration. More important than a focus on technology is the need for teacher preparation programs to facilitate changes in methodology that move from the 19th century classroom model to that of a learning community that does Whatever It Takes to support individual learners.

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