Are you drowning in a sea of technology with no land in sight?
Is your "ed tech" course overflowing?
Do you need a map for the information ocean?

We need more than survival skills to use technology effectively in today's classrooms. We need more than a life raft, we need a high tech submarine! It's time to explore new frontiers in teacher education and technology. This paper explores ways to integrate technology throughout the teacher education program. In addition, it suggests ideas for the redesign of an introductory educational technology course including instructional strategies and student projects.


Technology has become an integral part of life for educators and their students. Regardless of whether the task is writing a short story, exploring information resources, examining cultural diversity, tracking a chemistry experiment, testing a mathematical concept, developing new instructional materials, or tracking grades, technology plays an increasingly important role in the teaching/learning process (Lamb, 1996).

The purpose of education is to promote learning. The integration of technology into the teaching/learning environment is essential in preparing students for life in the 21st Century. Educators and students together can activate their learning environment through the effective use of technology. Technology involves all kinds of hardware including computers, CD-ROM, laserdiscs, scanners, video, and even overhead projectors. Technology includes a variety of software from word processing and databases to multimedia and virtual reality. However most important, educational technology deals with issues of selection, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of all kinds of teaching/learning environments. Quality teacher preparation programs see the ability to effectively integrate technology into the teaching and learning process as an important skill for preservice teachers.


In the Fall of 1994 a three year plan named ATAC (Activate Technology Across the Curriculum) was developed as a guide for integrating technology into the Teacher Education program at the University of Southern Indiana. The original plan included background information, assumptions, needs assessment, definitions statements, status, technology program goals and objectives, technology program implementation strategies, and a list of student competencies.

Our goal was to integrate effective uses of technology across the teacher education program by (a) providing opportunities for faculty to develop and apply technology skills to enhance their teaching, research, writing, and service activities, and (b) providing opportunities for preservice, inservice, and graduate teacher education students to develop and apply technology skills to enhance the teaching/learning process. In order to reach these goals we've developed relationships within the university and local community as well as with schools and universities outside our local area.

We are currently in the third year of this plan and have made tremendous progress toward our goals. In preparation for ATAC II, the next three-year cycle of our plan, we have been reflecting on our progress and refining our goals.

Technology Across the Curriculum

Activating technology across the curriculum involves more than an "one-shot" technology course. Faculty throughout the program must be committed to the infusion of technology into their courses. Early experiences require students to refine basic technology skills such as word processing, CD-ROM use, and Internet applications. Middle experiences provide students with important instructional design and technology skills that are needed to integrate technology into the classroom. Late experiences allow students to expand their technology skills in specific content areas and experiment with alternative approaches and classroom management techniques. Culminating experiences encourage students to be creative in the "real world" through student teaching, working with teachers, and designing technology-based final products. Our goal is to encourage new teachers to be explorers, problem solvers, risktakers, and reflectors as they build exciting learning environments for children and young adults.

Early Experiences:
Exploring the Teaching Profession

Our teacher education program begins with courses that help students explore the wonderful world of teaching. During their early teacher education experiences, students have opportunities to use technology for their own personal and professional productivity. Students use CD-ROM for information access, Internet for up-to-date educational resources and lesson plans, and email to reach beyond the local community to K-12 students and teachers around the world. Email is a great way to link preservice teachers with K-12 children and experienced classroom teachers. For example, students in the Introduction to Education course use email to interact with a K-12 student for discussions ranging from favorite books to "what's a good teacher." They also connect with other teacher education students and experienced teachers to explore the world of teaching. Students use our teacher education web site (see Figure 1) called the Magic Carpet Ride ( to explore popular educational issues and identify useful lesson plans on the Internet. Through these initial experiences students build skills and gain confidence using technology for their own personal and professional assignments.

Middle Experiences:
Building Teaching and Technology Skills

The middle semesters of the teacher education program involve building teaching and technology skills. Specifically, students take the required Introduction to Educational Technology course. In the past, we attempted to teach everything about all the technologies, plus provide hands-on experience and opportunities to explore through field work in this single introductory course. We had sixteen weeks to teach ten courses worth of content. Both the professors and students were overwhelmed. In addition, every semester the course expanded as new technology was introduced. Students who took the course in the fall, missed the neat new experiences available to spring students. By the time students graduated, they were already two years behind! With little hope of having additional courses required, the task seemed impossible. The traditional approach to course revision would be to spend less time with each technology or cut out some technologies completely. Neither approach seemed to meet our goal of providing the skills students need for today and tomorrow. It was time for a paradigm shift.

There were four significant shifts. The first shift was in the role of the course. Recognizing that we couldn't teach everything, we've chosen to focus on the design of effective learning environments and identify those areas where technology can play a significant role. The second shift was in the role of the university instructor. Rather than being the disseminator of information, the instructor became a mentor, guide, and a facilitator. The role of technology became the third shift. The focus moved from an emphasis on hardware and software to a focus on information and communication. As such, the course began to focus on methods for conveying ideas through various channels rather than "making a transparency" or "designing a database." Students now explore and produce informational, instructional, and creativity resources. The role of technology became why, where, and how would technology be integrated into a particular aspect of a lesson. The fourth major shift was in the role of students. Again, the focus changed. Instead of a series of unrelated activities and exams, students became project developers focusing on teaching and learning styles and the integration of various technology elements to meet instructional needs. The shifts may seem obvious, but they have transformed the course.

The outcome of these shifts is a sophomore level course that helps preservice teachers activate the learning environment through the use of technology. The course focuses on both teacher and K-12 student use of technology, while encouraging the development of hands-on projects and practical lesson plans. Rather than teaching the specifics of learning theories or equipment operation, we've focused on those skills that are most important for beginning teachers entering the profession in a new century.

The course begins with skills new teachers need in the design and development of effective teaching/learning environments. The focus is on helping students connect learning outcomes, instructional materials, active involvement of learners, and assessment. Students then explore the design and development of effective informational and instructional materials including print (i.e., letters, manuals, handouts), display (i.e., wall, stand-alone, table), and projected (i.e., transparencies, desktop presentations, multimedia, video production) media. Next, students evaluate, select, and integrate all kinds of informational, instructional, and creativity tools and technologies into the classroom such as floppy-based software, CD-ROM, laserdisc, Internet, and video. Finally, the course focuses on technology integration techniques as well as ideas for managing technology in the classroom.

Although the revised course did an excellent job preparing future teachers, we found that some students were not fully applying their skills to future courses and field experiences. The introduction of a "block scheduling" approach solved this problem for our elementary preservice teachers. "The Block" is an integrated, intensive, and very practical experience that blends university coursework with field participation. The block courses include Instructional Technology in Education, Children's Literature, Cultural Diversity and Human Relations, Developmental Reading and Language Arts. In addition to their university coursework, these preservice teachers spend lots of time in elementary classrooms. University students work in pairs and are assigned to classrooms by location, grade level interests, and friendships. Students quickly become part of regular classroom activities. With weekly opportunities to work with individuals, small groups, and large groups, they build confidence and valuable teaching experience. The last three weeks of the semester, students spend full-time in the classroom teaching lessons they've developed as part of their four courses. Students select a children's book to serve as the focal point for their lessons which incorporate technology elements. The field experience provides an excellent opportunity for preservice teachers to become part of a classroom and try out their teaching skills. They enjoy seeing their students' work published on bulletin boards and in the halls of their schools. Rather than a traditional final exam, the semester is celebrated with a block party where they share HyperStudio projects, videos they've produced, and other projects they've developed. For example, two preservice teachers used books on tall tales as the focal point for their lesson and developed a HyperStudio stack based on the tall tale, Johnny Appleseed. The elementary students then created their own tall tales (see Figure 2). First graders at Stringtown Elementary gave teaching advice to our preservice teachers in the form of a HyperStudio stack and drawings (see Figure 3).

The four block courses are connected with overlapping projects and requirements. For example, students create letters to parents, reading fliers, and activity handouts that are evaluated by both the technology and literacy faculty. Skills in desktop presentation development from the technology courses are applied to the development of a Clarisworks slide show on a particular genre of children's literature. Hyperstudio stacks are developed by students and their K-12 learners based on their literacy lessons. The Cultural Diversity course also connects with technology. Students apply their Internet skills to the exploration of information about culture, race, and ethnic groups on web pages developed by the faculty. As students evaluate educational software they become more aware of cultural issues and concerns (see Figure 4).


Late Experiences:
Expanding Technology Skills

Students expand their technology skills in specific content areas through their methods courses. They experiment with alternative approaches and classroom management techniques. A variety of technologies are used including Internet, CD-ROM, multimedia, tool software, laserdiscs, lab equipment, and video. The key to effective methods course technology infusion is the identification of specific hardware and software that play an integral part in the course and student projects rather than a supplemental role. In other words, rather than building a "technology day" into their syllabus, technology applications flow naturally from the methods, strategies, and techniques discussed in the particular subject area. As the science faculty explore ways to motivate learners, they demonstrate Journey North, an online monarch butterfly migration project. Music theory software is used by music methods faculty. The social studies faculty use Internet as a source for current events information. Preservice teachers use computer graphics software in their art methods class. The math methods faculty encourage students to do their presentations in Hyperstudio. Finally, literacy faculty integrate reading and writing software, interactive books, and video into their courses.

In addition to the required technology course, our teacher education program offers elective undergraduate and graduate level coursework in the area of educational technology. These courses integrate traditional and emerging technology into the K-12 classroom and encourage our preservice teachers to explore how technology can be used as an informational, instructional, and creativity tool for both teachers and students. Students work with a variety of technology including video, audio, desktop publishing, desktop presentations, multimedia, and Internet. They develop instructional materials such as a HyperStudio stack that helps young children identify animal parents and their babies (see Figure 5). They incorporate video, sound, and scanned images. For example, a teacher education student took digital pictures of her students playing traditional Mexican games and developed a HyperStudio stack (see Figure 6). Another student developed an interactive book about a trip to Mammath Cave (see Figure 7).

Culminating Experiences:
Teaching in the Real World

Culminating experiences encourage students to be creative in the "real world" through student teaching, working with teachers, and designing technology-based final products. By the time our preservice teachers reach their student teaching experience, they've had lots of experiences working with children and exploring the use of technology in classrooms. The student teaching experience provides our preservice teachers with many opportunities to try out instructional strategies and apply what they've learned about technology in schools. For example, Ginger developed a WOW: Windows on the World project on the topic of Mexico with her third grade class. Her third graders reflected on their unit, developed the categories of our trip, our food, our crafts, and our activities, and selected photographs (see Figure 8). Amy developed web pages on the rainforest to share with her second graders, then posted their rainforest drawing and sentences on her web page (see Figure 9). Cathy decided that she'd like to get to know her class before her student teaching experience began. She created a HyperStudio stack that introduced herself to her class including sounds, videos, and information about herself, her family, hobbies, and favorite things. When she arrived the first day of student teaching, her class felt like they already knew their new teacher (see Figure 10).

Teacher Education and Technology

Activating technology across the curriculum involves more than revisions to technology courses. The entire faculty must be committed to infusing technology throughout the program. Begin by conducting a needs assessment to examine the current status of the program and determine future directions.

Your technology plan must specify the goal of technology in your teacher education program and detail the strategies for implementing change. The key to an effective technology program in teacher education is providing hands-on, practical projects that provide students with opportunities to manage and integrate a variety of technologies in the K-12 curriculum. To make this happen, your teacher education faculty must have access to the hardware, software, and technology skills needed to prepare students for today's classrooms. In addition, the faculty must "practice what they preach" if they hope to instill a love of learning in their teachers. You can't just read about technology, you've got to do it! (Lamb, 1997) In other words, students need to see models of effective technology use in teaching to become enthusiastic users of technology.


Lamb, A. (1996). Building Treehouses for Learning: Technology in Today's Classrooms. Evansville, IN: Vision to Action.
Lamb, A. (1997). MacPac for Teachers: Hands-on Macintosh Applications. Evansville, IN: Vision to Action.

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