Learner-Centered Pedagogy in Technology Integrated Classrooms: An Agenda for Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Learner-Centered Pedagogy in Technology Integrated Classrooms: An Agenda for Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Esther Ntuli, Arnold Nyarambi
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0892-2.ch016
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Research evidence exists to support the implementation of learner-centered approaches in technological usage and in teaching methodologies. This chapter uses qualitative observation data on implementation of learner-centered approaches in technology integrated classrooms collected by two participant observers. Findings indicate that the problems that some instructional technology researchers in the past decade have found still persist despite the extensive technology professional development designed to enhance the use of technology in a learner-centered approach. The TPACK framework which is used as a guide to effective technology integration has not been fully utilized by many who offer professional development or those who design technology courses at teacher preparation programs. Two major problems noted in observation notes are: 1) those who provide professional development do not begin with the background of the TPACK framework; 2) the TPACK framework is usually discussed in isolation of other frameworks such as the UDL framework.
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Research in the dawn of the last decade found that it was difficult for most teachers to integrate technology as an instructional tool because of limited technical resources in the classroom. Decisions on how to use technology such as computers in the classroom largely depended on the number of the computers in the classroom, not on the curriculum or pedagogy. Researchers at the time noted that pedagogy and curriculum only should drive the instructional use of technology, not limited resources (Dockstader, 1999; Wood, Specht, Willoughby & Mueller, 2008). This was the recommendation on how teachers should use technology and an appeal to the school districts and those who fund school resources to consider increasing technology in the classrooms. In response, today we see millions of dollars being invested in learning with technology in schools (Amiel & Reeves, 2008; Chen, 2004), and fairly recent U.S. educational statistics indicate that more than 95% of teachers have access to computers and the internet in the classroom (NCES, 2009). Today with the proliferation of ipads, kindle books and other modern instructional technologies, the use of technology is increasingly becoming a driving force in curriculum and pedagogy. National reports such as the CDW-G (2006) and the Voogt (2008) and international report indicate that teachers are making an effort to integrate technology as an instructional tool to support student learning. There is, however, some research and reports that disagree. Such reports display a picture of technology integration failure. They portray that teachers are not effectively using technology to support learner-centered pedagogy; rather, technology is used to support traditional teacher-centered directed methods of teaching. Bauer and Kenton, (2005) and Mueller, Wood, Willoughby, Ross and Specht (2008) are proponents of this school of thought.

Most current reports indicate that computer resources (laptops, iPads, Kindles, etc) are abundant in most classrooms (Ed Tech Trends, 2014), and what affects the instructional use of technology is a lack of effective pedagogy and curriculum (or content) knowledge best taught using such technology. It is expected that knowledge of and the relationship among curriculum, pedagogy, and technology be infused during teacher preparation. The past 8 years have seen an increase in the infusion of technology courses at teacher training and professional development programs, and electronic media in every educational setting in the U.S (Axley, 2008). The question is-what is the impact of the increase in technology courses and professional development in school districts on pedagogy? The following section of the chapter provides a brief literature review on the current status of technology integration in K-12 classrooms (and teacher preparation courses), the TPACK Framework, and learner-centered theoretical framework.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Regulation: The learner’s ability to direct behavior and control impulses so that they meet academic standards, and achieve learning goals and outcomes.

UDL Framework: Universal Design of Learning framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for diverse learners.

Infographics: Graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge.

Teacher-Centered: Teaching methods that place the teacher at the center of knowledge construction. All learning activities are teacher directed.

Behavior Tracking Software: Software such as behavior tracker s used for behavioral data collection, data analysis and behavior management.

Theoretical Orientation: Beliefs that are constructed based on learning theories.

School Wide Information System Software: (SWIS): A behavior and school discipline referral tracking software used for monitoring problem behavior.

Technological Knowledge: Knowledge of different information technologies that would be used in teaching and daily life.

Content Knowledge: Knowledge of the subject matter and its organizing structures.

Pedagogy Knowledge: Methods and strategies related to teaching, independent of a particular subject area.

Technology Integration: The effective use of technology in the classroom in such a way that students learn to apply computer skills in problem-solving.

Learner-Centered: Teaching methods that shift the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student with the aim of developing self-regulated learners who take charge of their own learning.

Chartdog 2.0: Behavioral software used to graph behavioral data to show behavioral trends.

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