Teacher Education Discussion Module: Online Teacher Chats About Technology in Schools

Teacher Education Discussion Module: Online Teacher Chats About Technology in Schools

Michelle Kowalsky (Rowan University, USA) and Leonard Long (Rowan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5519-3.ch006
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In two university graduate education courses, experienced K-12 teachers were asked to discuss amongst themselves—without the university instructor present at the time—several issues and readings about technology in K-12 schools. Content analysis of their online chats reveal useful information about teacher perceptions, values, and philosophies of teachers. Themes in their chats reveal underlying opportunities to help influence the next generation of school leaders. Information obtained via qualitative coding of these honest and detailed online discussions was able to help university instructors 1) to understand global and local barriers to technology from teachers' points of view and 2) to target instruction of educational leaders at the graduate level towards reform efforts. This type of engagement and analysis may help universities “take the pulse” of teacher perceptions in their area in order to improve K-12 teaching and monitor teachers', supervisors', and principals' growth toward dispositional goals for certification.
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Theoretical Framework

Online chats provide the ideal forum to foster learning communities, where one thought-provoking reflection can turn into a vibrant discussion among students with little facilitation from the instructor (Senge, 2012). Responses were presumed to align with the idea that human beings seek comfort and consistency by inheriting theories based on an organization’s cultural shared basic assumptions and Model I theories in use (Argyris, 1990; Schein, 1992). Yet expected responses of the participants were also not presumed to be uniformly consistent based either on the university’s program or the realities in their school districts.

Fullan (2007) appropriately stated that the phrase “‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ is not always an apt one for the planning of educational change. There is an abundance of wills, but they are in the way, rather than pointing the way” (p. 108). Teacher perceptions of technology integration in K-12 classrooms can be a welcome addition to the ongoing conversations in educational scholarship. Nevertheless, an open approach to the responses was taken, to ensure that all points of view of the participants were represented in the thematic analysis and in both the representative and unique dialogue examples.

In practice, moving beyond “just conversations” may prove to be an exciting but apprehensive endeavor for all. Learning communities are distinctly different from traditional classroom or lecture methods of learning, in that their conversations foster constructive, newly formulated insights when listening to the diverse perspectives of others (Senge, 2012). Virtual communities typically entail components which influence human behavior both immediately and over time, such as participation, individual identity, group dynamics and boundaries.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teacher Certification Candidates: In the context of this study, currently certified teachers seeking additional teaching credentials beyond the initial certification.

Learning Management System: An online, web-based technology used to deliver college curriculum and to engage in course learning activities over a specified period of time.

Synchronous Chat: A method of communicating online with others by typing in real time.

Asynchronous: A method of communicating online with others by typing a message to be retrieved and read later.

Module: A section of an academic course delivered within an online learning management system.

Technology: Any computer-based tool for information and communication purposes.

Teacher Education: Collegiate level programs of instruction which prepare professional teachers.

Discussion Board: An online learning tool for asynchronous written conversations among users.

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