Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Unforeseen Casualty to NCLB: CS211

Over the past three years I have taught CS211, "Technology In Education," at Saint Joseph's College in Standish, Maine. I just found out earlier this week that this course will no longer be offered to students at SJC. It was explained to me that this was due to new requirements under NCLB that would not allow time for students to take this course. I take this news with mixed emotions.

This course has traditionally been offered to Elementary Education majors at SJC. I developed the course based on some great feedback from readers of David Warlick's blog, 2¢ Worth. I emailed David in October of 2005 asking him what he thought pre-service teachers should learn about technology before entering the classroom. David graciously pushed this to his blog and the feedback from his readers was tremendous (Thank you David, your devotion to education is truly outstanding).

When I first took this course on I was really surprised by my students. I figured these were students who were well versed in technology use. I had read about these "digital natives" and figured they would be ready to fly with technology in their classrooms. I was amazed to find out that many of them felt that technology didn't belong in the classroom at all.

Over the years of teaching this course I realized that these students only understand how to use technology in social ways. They have beautifully designed Facebook pages, use IM and texting regularly, and email is easy. They have never had good modeling of technology use in the classroom by most of their k-12 teachers and college professors so their idea of good teaching does not include technology. The great teachers they remember from their educational past were not integrators of technology.

The loss of this course scares me for our future teachers and the impact that will be felt by their future students. The hard part is that philosophically I believe this course should not exist. Their college professors should be teaching them about the tools and resources I used in my class. Unfortunately, the Education Department at SJC is not really prepared to take this on. Sadly, I don't think that this is terribly different from most teacher preparation programs. I have offered to provide professional development within the Education Department to look at some of the pieces of CS211 and how they could be incorporated into the other courses taken by Elementary Education majors at SJC. I have yet to see if the college will take me up on that offer.

How will these future teachers learn how to use technology to improve student learning? How will they prepare their students for their future and not our past?

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Image: 'Empty Class Room'

1 comment:

Michael Sentance said...

I'm not sure that I understand what St. Joseph's has done or why. There are no "new" requirements for teacher preparation under NCLB -- at least none since the regulations on "highly qualified teachers" were promulgated several years ago. There has been an emphasis on content but thoughtful teacher preparation programs are requiring the equivalent of a double major for education majors - one in a content area, one in education.

There is a continuing need for the understanding and use of technology in the field. Given the need for parental involvement, data analysis and the host of other creative demonstrations of student knowledge, a foundation in the use of technology in education would be very useful.

Call or write if you have any further questions.

Michael Sentance, Secretary's Regional Representative for New England
(617) 289-0100