Case 4 – Preservice Biology Teachers

The underlying issue in Case 4 is that a professor who has been teaching for many years is lecturing to preservice teachers the benefits of introducing technology in the biology classroom.  The professor goes on to speak about how it is so important to have a support network of other teachers of similar subject areas; his own experience was two physics teachers who were his seniors.  This support network allows an educator feel comfortable trying new technologies and if something is to fail then the support teachers are there to help.  I’m not sure when this case takes place, but the professor also goes on to say that the district is not going to provide tech support and this is definitely not the case in my current place of employment.

The professor mentions that there are three levels of technology integration in the classroom.  Level 1 – Lecture enhancing

  • Teacher doesn’t have to do much
  • No real change in pedagogy
  • Allows teachers to become used to software and don’t need

Level 2 – Student use of technology

  • Need to have more than one computer in the room
  • Maybe 8 computers in the room
  • Students do all the activities at the same time
    • Simulations etc

Level 3 – Students directed, self paced learning

  • Here’s what you have to know, go know it
  • Progress through a study guide
  • Teacher really needs to know the curriculum and the technology

Finally the professor mentions that with curriculum limitations and the amount of content that needs to be taught, there is a significant time crunch on all teachers.  He mentions that in Science 10 all of his fun labs are gone as there is a provincial exam in that course.  Since the time of this writing a lot has changed in the BC K-12 Education system including the provincial exams and the curriculum.

We are then given a chance to hear from the preservice teachers about their upcoming practicum and how likely they are to attempt the use of technology in their own classrooms.  The answer is the same ‘not likely’ across almost all of the educators and the reason is also the same: “I don’t feel comfortable with the technology and what if something goes wrong”.  I think there is a fundamental problem here and one where both the educators and the students lose out.  Many educators have brilliant ideas but are afraid to implement them with the fear of failure.  The last two years of my teaching career have been transformational as I have been encouraged by my district and school administration to take risks with the potential to “fail forward”; the results have been amazing – I have implemented large, inquiry based projects in almost all of my classes.

4 comments

  1. As a relatively new teacher, I think there is a case to be made that all pre-service teachers should learn to use some form of technology in the classroom even in their practicums and to experiment with technology as much as possble. As someone who is still preparing lots of material to be used on a daily basis in my math class, I try to incorporate as much technology as possible where it makes sense, in order to “future proof” my lessons. Even if it was a disaster at times (and sometimes they were) I could learn from the experience and make it better the next time around.

  2. I think your school admin and district are really progressive in their encouragement of teachers. I think the fear of failure and potential backlash from it can cause hesitation in some people, but just knowing it’s okay if it doesn’t work out could make all the difference.

  3. I remember when I was doing my practicum over 7 years ago, I was fortunate enough to have a Smartboard installed into the grade 7 classroom
    I was teaching in. If I didn’t have that Smartboard, would have I tried to incorporate other forms of technology in the class? Probably not. Since it wast there and my sponsor teacher and myself didn’t know how to use it, it pushed me to learn about it and include it in my lessons. I can see why pre-service teachers and veterans alike might not use technology in their classrooms. An underlying theme throughout most video cases presented, was that there was a lack of funding, training and time to use technology. It’s one thing for school districts and teacher education programs to push and promote the use of technology in classrooms, but it’s another to actually help with the funding, training and time for teachers to use it.

  4. Baljeet

    I like the fact that you brought up having more computers in the classroom. I remember teaching at a brand new school (new building, very old school) where every classroom received four computers. I would say 80% of these computers were never used.

    I wonder if could discuss what process a teacher could go through to get new technology for their classroom.

    A good next step might be to include academic research in your post.

    Christopher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.