Lorrie Webb, Ph.D. James Jurica, Ph.D. Texas A&M University-San Antonio
ABSTRACT This article is an exploratory examination of data collected from 96 school districts regarding the technology skills that future teachers should be taught in public schools. Several suggestions are made by study respondents regarding the changing needs of technology skills expected of new teachers with implications for instruction in university educator preparation programs. Future analysis of data from this preliminary study could be useful for future policy recommendations for school administrators in terms of hiring expectations and considerations for evaluating and hiring prospective teachers for public school classrooms.

Introduction Today‟s educators are pressured to meet the needs of the students they serve (Williams, Foulger, & Wetzel, 2009). The Consortium for School Networking (2004) discovered that the internet was rarely implemented effectively in classrooms, even though 99 percent of elementary and secondary schools have access to the resource. Universities are struggling to prepare future educators with the skills needed today, as well as for future technologies. One challenge is in determining the specific skills these educators will need (Albee, 2003). “As future students enter their college programs with more previous exposure to technology, the specific skill development



needed during their college tenure may look increasingly different (Collier, Weinburgh, & Rivera, 2004). Donovan and Green (2009) stated that technology will eventually become as integral as classroom management in teacher education programs. In order to attain this goal, research is needed on the expectations that school districts have on teacher graduates. This study attempted to discover these expectations in one metropolis area.

Literature Review Two primary areas of research related to this research project: characteristics of “digital native” students and preparing teachers to address these characteristics in their future students. The term “digital native” has been coined to represent those who have grown up in the digital age – not having experienced a world without digital media (Prensky, 2001). According to Small and Vorgan (2008), these students‟ brains were conditioned differently due to the frequent use of digital media such as email, video games, VOIP, and texting. Students were no longer passive viewers but active participants. They were motivated by the desire to be busy and stay connected through multitasking (Sprenger, 2009). Tapscott (2009) found that the average 8 to 18 year old spends approximately 6 hours a day connected to some digital communication device – sometimes several simultaneously. Lewin (2010) discovered that an average young American spent at least three hours a day on a mobile device: one half of an hour talking, two hours consuming media, and one hour receiving and sending over 500 texts. They were able to interact with 11 hours of media in only seven and a half hours due to multitasking. Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) characterized digital natives as highly social and quick reactors who craved immediacy and expected the same from others. They are “more visually literate than previous generations… able to weave together images, text, and sound in a natural way” (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005, p. 2.5). These students also preferred team-based learning in order to stay connected with others.


Today‟s students are “in danger of experiencing their education as irrelevant to their wired lives” (Kitsis, 2010, p. 50). Current teacher preparation programs need to be able to address the needs of these digital natives, who will eventually be students in their classrooms. Technology has normally been addressed in one of two ways in teacher education programs: a single course or two devoted to teaching with technology or an integration approach weaving technology throughout methods courses. Both approaches have their problems. No single technology course effectively addresses all issues (Brown & Warschauer, 2006); yet, integration programs do not seem to model technology within methods courses adequately (Adamy & Boulmetis, 2006). Since the digital native students in the future classrooms could very well know more about the technologies available, a shift in teacher education programs is beginning to occur. Instead of continuing to teach about new technologies, programs should prepare teachers to learn about new technologies on their own and to implement them in meaningful ways (Williams, Foulger, & Wetzel, 2009). However, in order to feel confident in learning new technologies, preservice teachers need foundational technology skills. Several studies attempted to determine technology skills of preservice teachers, as well as specific skills needed. In Northwestern Pennsylvania, education majors completed a survey based on perceptions of their computer skills (Fleming, Motamedi, & May, 2007). The study determined that the preservice teachers perceived their computer skills as less than average in 14 areas. Ninety-six percent of the students surveyed owned their own computer and used it at least three to five hours each week, yet felt inadequately prepared to use technology (Fleming, Motamedi, & May, 2007). Benson, Farnsworth, Bahr, Lewis, and Shaha (2004) assessed preservice teachers‟ technology skills during their first year in the teacher education program, followed by mid-program and postprogram surveys, and an exit interview. The results of the initial survey showed knowledge and skills to be minimal with the exceptions of word processing and the Internet. After taking the required technology course, the students‟ skill levels showed statistically significant increases in all areas. The post-program survey



showed a slight decrease in technology proficiency levels, however. The exit interview resulted in some positive outcomes. According to the preservice teachers the two most important aspects gained included knowledge of software programs and preparedness to use technology in their future classrooms (Benson et al., 2004). The study demonstrated how coursework can positively impact students‟ technology skills. “However, without continual reinforcement of the use of technology, skill level will not be maintained” (Benson et al., 2004, p. 659). Schaffhauser (2009) addressed the Technological, Pedagogical, Content, Knowledge (TPACK) instruction in teacher preparation at Iowa State. Teacher candidates were allowed to check out equipment such as iPods, computers, digital cameras, etc. in lots of 10 to use during their field work in the schools. This alleviated the inequity issue of technologies they were taught to integrate in their coursework and the actual equipment available to them in their field work. Mouza and Wong (2009) hypothesized that case development could help teachers develop TPACK. They conducted a four-stage study involving students enrolled in a specific course. During stage one, teachers identified a pedagogical problem. In stage two, they developed a technology plan to address the problem. Then the teachers enacted the technology plan in field-based classroom assignments and recorded the activities. Finally, the teachers wrote an educative case during stage four. Mouza and Wong collected data from written cases, online discussions, and in-depth interviews. The authors proved their hypothesis; an increased growth in the teachers‟ TPACK occurred, and teachers engaged in effective reflective practice (Mouza & Wong, 2009). “Numerous courses in teacher education are not preparing preservice teachers to use technology because specific technology skill needs have not been identified, and there is a lack of technology integration modeled by professors in teacher education courses” (Albee, 2003, p. 54). Albee (2003) attempted to find solutions to this problem in a triangulated study. An analysis of administrators‟ expectations of new teachers, preservice teachers‟ perceptions of preparedness, and coursework technology requirements was evaluated.


The results confirmed the need for increased technology skill preparedness. Students conveyed a high level of discrepancy between expectations of technology use while student teaching and selfassessed proficiency levels. Results from surveys regarding technology requirements in program courses revealed a lack of consistency (Albee, 2003). The expectations of district administrators can assist teacher preparation programs in determining technology skills that need to be addressed. The study presented here attempted to determine the needs of districts in one metropolis area.

Methodology The purpose of this study was to collect data on technologies (both hardware and software) available to and used by teachers in North Texas public school districts. Specifically, the study attempted to answer the following questions: 1. What software technologies will be available for use by new teachers? 2. What hardware technologies will be available for use by new teachers? 3. What do school districts expect from new teachers regarding technology integration into their teaching? 4. What do school districts expect from new teachers regarding technology utilization in their job responsibilities? 5. What can universities do to improve their teacher education program in the areas of technology? Participants consisted of technology administrators from 98 North Texas districts (from Tarrant County, Dallas County, and all bordering counties). An email was sent requesting input in the form of an electronic survey concerning current technologies used in each district. A follow-up email was sent to those who did not respond within 2 weeks.



An electronic survey consisting of quantitative and qualitative questions was used to gather data. The survey developed by the researchers included items related to technologies available to elementary and secondary students and teachers, as well as district demographics. Qualitative data came from a semi-structured conversational approach. Qualitative data concerning opinions of what new teachers needed in areas of technology utilization and integration and opinions on what universities could do to improve teacher education programs in these areas was analyzed for key word/phrase commonalities. Some secondary data, of district demographics, was collected as well. While statistical and qualitative data are being analyzed for future studies, the findings reported below provide some preliminary insights informing the issue of technology skills expected of 21st Century teachers.

Preliminary Findings Open-ended questions developed by the researchers sought to answer what training and skills are needed by new teachers in the area of technology and how universities could assist in that endeavor. The following are representative quotes from participants for each of the open-ended questions. 1. What area(s) of technology do your teachers need more training/skills? Integration of technology versus teaching technology was a consistent theme. a. “They need to see how to enhance their curriculum and not add more to the curriculum.” b. “#1 need is to create the understanding that technology should be seamless in its instructional use in the classroom. It should not be separate instruction.” c. “Seamless integration of technology into their daily lessons. They use technology as a personal tool but not a tool with the students to enhance learning and make it more relative to our 21st century learners.”


d. “Technology integration into the curriculum, using technology as a SUPPORTING TOOL rather than the focus in a lesson.” 2. How can universities better prepare new teachers for integrating technology? Answers centered on modeling technology integration. a. “All university classes need to be modeling technology integration. Online, problem-based/project-based and robust technology skills should be demonstrated as well as expected from the students. Do not teach the technology as skill-based, isolated courses. They do not know how to link to the curriculum unless they have had practice. Use and understand the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. Allow teachers to practice their content by developing their integration skills.” b. “Deliver instruction to you university students in the same ideal manner that they will (should) be delivering content to their students. Engaging, collaborative, 24/7 access to content and resources should be encouraged.” c. “They need to include technology integration in every course as an integral part of the course and not a separate unit.” d. “By example with hands on use and integration into projects, lesson planning, etc.” 3. Other comments/suggestions on how universities can improve their teacher preparation program pertaining to technology. a. “The focus on 21st Century skills needs to begin with the university professors and staff. They need to model, model, model. Teachers should not be taking copious notes from an overhead or data projector and expect to produce a different outcome. The need for a tighter linkage between K-12 and higher education needs to begin with higher ed. learning, understanding, and



teaching teachers according to their content and not just a broad stroke of content with technology as an add-on. Allow practitioners to use the technology to collaborate, monitor, produce, and create learning communities with their education plan.” b. “In the last few years, I have seen improvement in new college grads with respect to some fundamental computer uses. They seem able to handle the basics or essentials that their job requires - email, word processing, using clip art, Power Point, posting on web pages. I suspect that is just an societal effect from Web 2.0 and the enthusiasm that young adults have for Facebook, YouTube, etc. Many still lack the fundamentals that make them technology literate vs. competent. Model, model, model the use of technology in your own classrooms. Require the use of technology in everything that your students do. Make sure you have all the modern tools - data projectors, document cameras, electronic whiteboards, clickers, etc. If there's a way to fit it into your program somehow, take them to TCEA, area conferences, vendor fairs, etc. You might even ask vendors to come into your classes and demonstrate their products. Give them a look at what might be waiting out there for them to utilize in their own classrooms. You might help them know what to look for in a school district when they take that first job. If there's one thing I wish our existing teachers could do, it would be to spend time observing teachers and students in a technology infused environment so they could see the difference that it makes with the students.”

Conclusions “All teachers should engage students in effective technology


learning experiences that challenge them to think in-depth about relevant technology content and processes in a learning environment that is founded in contemporary pedagogical practices” (Ginns, Norton, McRobbie, & Davis, 2007, p. 198). Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) have determined four critical questions university faculty and administrators should ask themselves:     Who are the learners? How are they different from the educators? What learning activities are most engaging? Are there ways to use technology to make learning more successful?

These questions are just as valid for new teachers in elementary and secondary settings. More technology is not necessarily the answer; interactive technology, however, engages digital natives‟ quest for experiential learning.



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Lewin, T. (2010). If your kids are awake, they‟re probably online. The New York Times. Retrieved from Mouza, C., & Wong, W. (2009). Studying classroom practice: Case development for professional learning in technology integration. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 17 (2), 175-202. Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (Eds). (2005). Is it age or IT: First steps toward understanding the net generation. Educating the Net Generation. Retrieved from Prensky, M. (2001,October). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. Retrieved from Schaffhauser, D. (2009). Which came first – the technology or the pedagogy? THE Journal, 36(8), 27-32. Small, G., & Vorgan, G. (2008). iBrain. New York, NY: Collins Living. Sprenger, M. (2009). Focusing the digital brain. Educational Leadership, 67(1), 34-49. Tapscott, D. (2009). Growing up digital. New York, NY: McGrawHill. Williams, M. K., Foulger, T. S., & Wetzel, K. (2009). Preparing preservice teachers for 21st century classrooms: Transforming attitudes and behaviors about innovative technology. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 17(3), 393-418.

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