As an offshoot of my interest in teachers CPD, I am also curious about their professional development in their pre-service days, especially in teacher-training programs. Having completed several courses in a graduate education program myself, I am interested in the current state of such training. So, in light of this background, I read an article by Peggy Barmore at The Hechinger Report titled “Teacher colleges struggle to blend technology into teacher training” (http://hechingerreport.org/teachers-colleges-struggle-to-blend-technology-into-teacher-training/). Her article reminded me of a program requirement in my graduate program: complete a “technology” course in MS Office. Yes, it was many years ago (in the previous century) so this course may not even be considered a “technology” course today. However, even then I did not think such a course should be taught and I wondered about the rationale for it since technology was already changing, though not as quickly as now. Through various jobs, I had already gained the knowledge and skills in MS Office to complete the course without any effort or learning. Thus, I felt it was a waste of my time and money.
In Barmore’s article, the teacher Mr. Gilman makes a good point about teaching technology to student-teachers: “teaching them how to use the devices in the same manner [I do] is a different matter. You can read all about it … You can see things online. But, until you get up there and do it and make the mistakes … it’s totally different. You really can’t teach it.” I believe that he means he can teach student-teachers the “how to” of using technology but not its application. Also, an East Carolina University professor states that in their teacher education program, they require students to list their choice of technology and the rationale for their choices within their lesson plans. I agree with this approach because then learning about technology is embedded within the student teaching and not taught as a separate course, divorced from their actual student teaching.
Barmore discusses the different approaches taken by teacher-training programs and the struggles they experience in trying to decide where technology belongs in their programs. For teacher-training programs, it’s about both learning how to use the technology and the rationale for using it. I think Tony Wagner said it best at a 2012 TEDxNYED talk: “The world no longer cares what you know but what you can do with what you know.” To me, the order of technology also matters: the “what” (am I going to teach) and the “why” (reason for what I will teach) come first and then the “how” (which tools, such as technology, will I use).