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Teacher Technology Competencies - Part I
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by James G. Lengel, Hunter College School of Education CUNY, 04/06/2007
Can a teacher succeed in today's classroom without being able to use computer and network technologies? Should we expect teachers entering the profession to show competence in the kinds of technologies that can help their students learn? This week's article attempts to answer these questions by proposing what a list of teacher technology competencies might look like.
The problem is that so many new information technologies have come into the marketplace that it's difficult even to list all those that could have a positive effect on learning in the classroom. And no teacher can be expected to master the entire range of new possibilities, from science probes to simulations, from webcasts to podcasts, from graphic organizers to Google Maps. And any such list will change daily, as old software becomes obsolete and new applications are invented. So rather than make a long list of specific skills, this article attempts to propose a short summary of key principles.
As I have watched and worked with thousands of teachers at all levels, to make the best use of digital technology, I have noticed six areas of competence that seem to make a difference. These are Curriculum, Teaching, Environment, Differentiation, Assessment, Application, Collaboration, Communication, Information, Media, Productivity, and Presentation. We'll deal with the first six of these in this article, and the last six next week.
The competent teacher infuses digital technology into the standard subjects of the curriculum. He or she designs lessons that take advantage of the capabilities of the new technologies to develop key concepts in the standard subject areas of the school's curriculum. In this way the technology helps to fulfill state, local, and national curriculum standards. A competent teacher's planbook contains technology-using lesson plans showing development of key skills and concepts, aligning these with state standards. It also contains sample assignments that require students to use technology as part of their day-to-day work in all the subject areas.
The thoroughly modern teacher applies active and inclusive teaching strategies that employ digital technologies. The technology-using tasks assigned to the students work toward the development of higher-level cognitive skills, and often set up opportunities for collaboration among students. In this teacher's classroom we often observe students working in small groups, using computers to analyze and evaluate information in a problem-solving situation.
Today's effective teacher arranges digital tools and curriculum-related information in a supportive environment that motivates students. He or she ensures access to digital tools and networks by all students, and manages these to create a safe, secure, and ethical workplace. This teacher is not afraid to use digital technology to motivate and engage students. In this classroom we see students at work with a variety of digital technologies, all aimed at learning the key concepts of the curriculum.
Not every student does the same thing at the same time. The competent teacher selects digital tools and resources to support students with varied needs who learn in different ways. He or she analyses student data to better understand their learning needs, and provides assistive technologies to students as necessary. In the classroom we see a diverse set of tools and resources to match student needs, and we observe a diversity of learning materials and styles in use at any time.
The successful teacher uses modern information tools to assess and analyze student learning. He or she objectively assesses the curriculum content of students' multimedia projects, and uses spreadsheets and other data-analysis tools to examine information on students' learning such as test scores. This teacher's file cabinet includes electronic assessment rubrics, project analyses, and work samples, as well as graphs showing analyses of student achievement data.
For the competent educator, technology is not a subject of its own. Instead, he or she teaches students to apply digital tools to practical problems and investigations central to the standard curriculum. He or she directs and coaches students through the construction of projects using digital tools. The assignments develop higher-order understandings as well as factual knowledge. In the classroom we see student work products that show higher-order understandings based on meaningful problems.
We've only covered the first six competencies, and already it's a pretty tall order. How do you stand on this measure of competency? Where might you want to develop some new skills?Next week we'll continue this conversation with a discussion of Collaboration, Communication, Information, Media, Productivity, and Presentation.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Posted by Jeff Thomas at 9:14 AM