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Technology Professional Learning Communities Enable Educators to Evolve Together

Lisa Lucas (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 2:30pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere E3
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 8

Discover how a Technology Professional Learning Community increased teacher candidate and faculty integration of technology in K-12 schools and in higher education.

Extended Abstract

In teacher preparation programs, college students, known as teacher candidates, spend several semesters working on learning the pedagogical knowledge, practicing the skills and demonstrating the dispositions necessary for teaching. Often candidates need more preparation in effectively integrating technology into their planning and instruction during student teaching. To better prepare teacher candidates for technology integration during their student teaching semester, a Professional Technology Learning Community (PTLC) was designed that included teacher candidates, university faculty, and educators from local school districts. This PTLC is now in its third year of implementation. Through analysis of survey results, field notes and informal interviews, the design continues to be refined and improved.

This informational session will share the design process and results of the TPLC in a practical manner so that attendees can replicate the design in their own institutions. Most disciplines share the challenge to continue to evolve and cultivate their use of technology implementation since technology is advancing at a precipitous rate of speed. It is transforming how students work, think, and connect. It is transforming our educational systems. No one individual can keep up the range of technologies. However, working together, we can harness the power of collaboration to determine the most creative, appropriate use of technology into our teaching.

Digital information and communications technologies (ICT) are a set of tools, which can be used for learning to be creative and learning through being creative. Educators who are "ICT" capable are certainly able to use a variety of skills and techniques in an appropriate way based on informed choices. The TPLC is a means to provide all educators the opportunity to become ICT capable. In order to do this, educators need the opportunity to develop ICT skills and techniques in authentic and challenging creative contexts. They need opportunities to make informed choices of ICT tools and media available for different creative processes and stages. Creative lessons with new technologies can include developing ideas, making connections, creating and collaborating. It is not the digital resources that will inspire creativity, but the opportunities to interact, brainstorm, and produce new ways of doing things. ICT can play a role in making connections with other people, projects, information and resource throughout the world.

One of the continuous goals of this project is to help prepare teacher candidates to fulfill the expectation that they will be ready to use technology effectively to enhance children's learning. The TPLC is an opportunity to collaborate and stimulate all participants to grow and expand in their use of technology. In 2000 the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) advocated that teacher candidates complete experiences that use technology in their content areas along with experiences in the use of technology in instruction, assessment and professional productivity. Student teachers are now required to not only show good technology skills, but also to be able to include technology in their teaching in a manner which enhances children's learning.
The rapid advance of technology means that the level of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills of many students on entry to higher education is advanced (Simpson, 1999). In this sense many students may take on the paradoxical role of the 'expert novice' when placed in schools. While they lack experience of classrooms and teaching, many may possess technical ICT skills that far exceed the teacher with whom they are placed. However, considerable research has determined that it is the cooperating teacher in the student teaching experience who exerts the most influence on the perceptions of the student teacher. There is no doubt that the influence of the cooperating teacher on the preparation of future teachers is profound. This presents the concern about the influence of the cooperating teacher who lacks technological competence. Bitner and Bitner (2002) conclude that teacher candidates often lack good models to emulate for the effective integrating of technology into the classroom. By incorporating cooperating teachers, university faculty members and teacher candidates in the PTLC, the configuration allows all constituents the opportunity to collaborate, to share ideas and strategies for effective implementation of technology in an environment that encourages growth and experimentation.

During this presentation, the design, methods, and the results will be shared, including the surveys administered, and the process of using a discussion board for ongoing communication and collaboration. The presentation slides, web links and apps will also be provided.

This project, now in it's third year, continues to evolve. The TPLC enables students to take risks and make mistakes in a non-threatening atmosphere. Students need not only access to technologies, but also a forum to promote understanding and confidence in their own creative teaching practice. The TPLC is a place to foster creativity and "possibility thinking" along with technology.

Those that attend this session will:

- Be able to replicate the steps taken to create a PTLC in their own institution or setting.
- Will leave the session with a list of the technology topics, websites, and apps shared in the PTLC.
- Will have the opportunity to share how they integrate technology into their field of study.