TechTrends • January/February 2009
Volume 53, Number 1
ers began to visualize themselves as practicingteachers and reected on how the technology could support student learning in their class-room. Here, one o our pre-service teachers dis-cusses a book-reading device and the access itprovided or a young boy named Josh, who isautistic.What a great tool! I I had a student whowas primarily nonverbal and I had exhaust-ed all o my ideas to help him, I would neverhave thought or known there was a tool outthere like this!Afer watching a video that showed a youngman named John using an alternative keyboard,another student posted the ollowing comment tothe wiki:Being able to use this device in a class-room opens up so many opportunities orstudents who are like John, but also maybesomeone that needs help with communi-cation. It can give students the ability toeel equal in the classroom. Tis would bea great piece o equipment to know moreabout. I know just watching this videomakes me want to get out and help morepeople and by knowing about productslike this helps me accomplish my goal.When visiting the A lab, the pre-serviceteachers never included this type o visualizationin their reections. While neither the visit to theA lab or the posts to the A wiki specically required our pre-service teachers to think abouttheir uture roles as teachers, seeing individu-als using the equipment in the videos helped toprompt this type o reection.In a way, the wiki project served as a virtualeld experience that allowed the pre-serviceteachers to observe specic technologies in useby individuals with special needs. With the visitto the empty A lab, the pre-service teachers hadto imagine how an individual would use a tooland what possible benets the device would pro- vide. In contrast, the wiki project gave the pre-service teachers an “eyes-on” experience wherethey could witness these benets or themselves.Without being a central ocus o the project, theA wiki helped pre-service teachers visualizetheir roles as uture teachers and how they couldbetter support individuals with special needs intheir classrooms.Now that the A lab has reopened in its newspace, we are reconsidering how best to preparenew teachers to enter schools and work withspecial needs students. Te wiki project helpedour pre-service teachers visualize their roles asuture teachers and ocused the assistive tech-nology discussion on the individuals who ben-et rom its use. On its own, the A wiki doesnot adequately prepare uture teachers to man-age assistive technology or to understand howthey operate. o meet these goals, pre-serviceteachers need to visit the A lab and experiencersthand how dierent devices unction. Aferthe wiki project, however, we realize the bestapproach is to couple the assignments togetherand have our students visit the A lab and col-laborate in the A wiki. Trough these coordi-nated experiences, our pre-service teachers willnot only learn how to operate dierent assistivetechnology devices but also see that the toolscan provide access or individuals in real class-room setting. While the wiki project was borneo out necessity, it helped us reconsider how weprepare new teachers to work with special needsstudents.
is an assistant proessor at MillersvilleUniversity o Pennsylvania where he teaches instructional technology and science methods courses. Prior to coming to Millersville, Dr. Dreon taught science or feen years in the public schools and was a 2001 Christa McAulie Fellow (PA).He obtained his BS in Physics and his MA in eaching romthe University o Pittsburgh. Dr. Dreon recently completed aPhD in Curriculum and Instruction through Penn State Uni-versity. His research interests include teacher development and proessional teacher identity.
Nanette I. Marcum-Dietrich
is an assistant proessor in the Educational Foundations Department at MillersvilleUniversity o Pennsylvania where she teaches Science Meth-ods and Instructional echnology. Prior to completing her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at the University o Del-aware, Dr. Dietrich taught high school chemistry and biol-ogy or nine years. Her research interests in science educationinclude: writing to learn, scientifc literacy, and technologyintegration.Dr. Marcum-Dietrich and Dr. Dreon recently published the book
Authentic instruction with technology: A student-centered approach.
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