Pre-Service Teachers and Technology Integration: International Cases and Generational Attitudes Toward Technology in Education

Pre-Service Teachers and Technology Integration: International Cases and Generational Attitudes Toward Technology in Education

David J. Mulder (Dordt College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7305-0.ch103
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The current generation of young teachers entering the profession is often presumed to have an easy comfort with and seemingly innate understanding of technology. Prensky (2001) has gone so far as to name them “digital natives” and has claimed that members of the millennial generation “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors” (p. 1). However, recent studies in several English-speaking western nations call the millennial generation's innately skillful use of technology into question, and some studies of millennial teachers indicate that they are, in fact, no better at integrating technology into their teaching than their colleagues from other generations. Rogers' (2003) diffusion of innovations theory provides an alternative to the digital native/digital immigrant approach for explaining teachers' technology integration habits. Based on this approach, suggestions for teacher educators are recommended for training millennial teachers to integrate technology and pedagogy.
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In schools today, there are as many as four distinct generations at work, which each have their own unique characteristics to describe them (Oh & Reeves, 2014; Pegler, Kollewyn, & Crichton, 2010). The youngest generation of teachers—those just entering the profession—are often assumed to be technologically savvy, interested in collaboration, and possessing learning style preferences different from earlier generations (Oh & Reeves, 2014; Southall, 2013). Prensky (2001) named this generation “digital natives” because of their preferences and proclivities for using technology. However, other voices have noted concern with this assumption that today’s novice teachers are somehow “native” in their use of technology (Bennett & Maton, 2010; Kennedy et al, 2009; Margaryan, Littlejohn, & Vojt, 2011). Bauerlein (2009) went so far as to name this generation “the Dumbest Generation,” which raises concern about their ability to teach at all!

At the forefront of this collision of perspectives is the question of the abilities of this young generation of teachers to integrate technology into their teaching practices. If they are truly “digital natives,” they should be able to integrate technology with ease and facility. Does the literature bear this out? If so, to what degree? And if not, what are the implications for teacher preparation programs charged with training this generation of teachers?

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