Immersing Future Middle-Level Science Educators in a Blended Learning Environment

Immersing Future Middle-Level Science Educators in a Blended Learning Environment

Christine Anne Royce
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0242-6.ch012
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Current pre-service teachers are considered digital natives in that they have grown up with the use of technology. However, these future teachers often need explicit and modeled experiences to become a digital educator as they will be the future teachers in what has become an increasingly technological world that utilizes digital tools and applications. This chapter delves into the literature related to blended learning and preparing these preservice teachers to utilize technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) within a blended learning environment (BLE). Through immersion in a middle school science methods course that utilized a BLE, preservice teachers were provided with relative experiences for their future teaching career. Lessons learned and reflections from the preservice teachers provide foundational information for future planning.
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As K-12 schools move towards technology integration with either a one-to-one focus or classroom sets of tablets that either have students working independently or collaboratively for student interaction and engagement, there is an increasing need to prepare future educators to work with students within a blended learning environment. School districts are incorporating blended learning and online instruction into their regular course of offerings at a growing rate (Duhaney, 2012; Shand & Farrelly, 2017; Watson, 2008). Therefore, there is a growing need for educators who are prepared to teach in this type of environment as learning the process of technology integration and the incorporation of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) is necessary. Simply having been raised a “digital native” does not equate to being a “digital educator.” In order to take the digital native and turn them into a digital educator, there is a still need to utilize traditional and explicit instructional techniques of modeling and scaffolding even though the instructional strategies may be around the incorporation of digital practices and a blended learning environment.

This chapter will focus on how immersing pre-service teachers in a blended learning environment science methods course provides authentic experiences for their future teaching career by:

  • Providing an overview of the research and literature supporting the use of blended learning as a pedagogical strategy;

  • Examining where and how technology is a key aspect within a middle level classroom and can be incorporated into a science methods course; and

  • Describing strategies for designing and creating a middle school science methods course which utilizes a blended learning environment around digital practices.

Each topic area will draw from the available literature in the field to build a framework and describe example strategies that highlight research into practice.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Preservice Teachers: College students enrolled in a program, but not yet graduated, leading to certification as a teacher.

Digital Tools and Applications: Instructional technologies and web or device-based tools which are meant to engage students through interactive, technology-based environments.

Science Methods Course: A semester long course designed to prepare future educators to teach science and develops science pedagogical content knowledge.

Technology Integration: The infusion of technology hardware, software, and web-based applications into instruction.

Constructivism: The construction of knowledge through involvement or engagement in experiences. Constructivism is the desired outcome of inquiry-based instruction.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): A form of specific knowledge that incorporates content, pedagogy, and technology to produce an understanding of how to best utilize technology within instruction.

Digital Natives: Individuals who have been exposed to the use of technology throughout their lifetime.

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