Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 13(3), p. 175-206, (2013)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to examine the participants' existent familiarity with literacy aligned technologies and the impact structured exposure might have on candidates’ reported knowledge of these tools.
Furthermore, it examined which digital technologies candidates saw as most valuable in supporting student literacy development and whether level of licensure made an impact on their receptiveness to the presented technologies.
The participants were 57 teacher education candidates enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program at a midsized southeastern US university.
The teacher candidates scored each technology based on their impressions of its ability to support student literacy development.
They also evaluated their own level of expertise with each piece of technology using a pre-post survey.
The technologies included broad-based applications (blogs, wikis, podcasts, and digital storytelling) as well as more specific applications (Prezi, Glogster, and Voicethread).
This study has shown that teacher education candidates can increase their level of comfort with showcased technologies.
Findings in this study suggest that teacher education candidates bring with them a clear comfort with certain technologies, indicating a high level of familiarity with these tools, although not necessarily mastery or even proficiency.
For example, the findings indicate participants already believed they had a high level of comfort and familiarity with these technologies in terms of their prior knowledge base.
In particular, the candidates’ self-perceptions of their familiarity with PowerPoint and social networking likely reflect the popular usage of these tools, in general, and in communicating with others, including students.
However, candidates can be supported in their knowledge of these technologies through structured exposure to these tools.
For instance, candidates reported their knowledge increased in all 21 of the 25 showcased technologies.
By exposing candidates to technologies carefully chosen for their ability to support student literacy development, candidates may be motivated to adopt these technologies for their own classroom practice and to recommend these technologies to colleagues.
Teachers first must be familiar with the tools and then be scaffolded to appropriate uses of these tools to support literacy instruction.
Candidates in this study stated their opinions about which technologies they felt would most likely support student literacy development and which they would adopt and recommend to colleagues.
The authors argue that since these candidates were novices in their field; they were searching to find their identity as teachers and to define their own instructional approaches.
As a result, their focus on their own needs first makes sense.
In addition, these candidates were considering how best to apply these technologies in their future classroom contexts to tap into the concept of new literacies and to support their students’ literacy development.
The early childhood candidates showed a clear preference for image-based and narrative-driven applications that allowed for student audio input (digital storytelling and Voicethread). In contrast, the middle and secondary majors selected tools that allowed for student writing for an authentic audience (blogs and Google Docs).
These technologies and their applications align with the Web 2.0 literacy models, including participatory information sharing, collaborative processes, and virtual communities.
In conclusion, this study found that teacher education candidates can be supported in becoming more familiar with these tools and supported in analyzing these tools for their future classroom use in their intended area of licensure.