Higher education’s mission is to ensure graduates are equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed in the modern workforce. In many fields, this task may prove more difficult as their respective landscapes continue to evolve, and education is no exception. In fact, the teaching profession has only become more complex since the pandemic, especially when it comes to harnessing education technology in the classroom. Right now, aspiring educators need more help than ever.
That’s according to the latest research from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which suggests that educator preparation programs (EPPs)—including participating higher ed institutions—have some work to do in equipping aspiring educators with the confidence to leverage edtech in the classroom.
Upon surveying 214 teachers during their first three years in the profession, in addition to two more surveys with faculty and leaders from more than 30 EPPs conducted in 2022, the researchers uncovered several concerns among the respondents regarding their ability to effectively teach with technology, citing a lack of preparation and training.
The report acknowledges three key findings based on the research:
- Just over half (53.5%) of EPPs report most of their faculty incorporate technology in their courses.
- Before entering the classroom, 56% of new educators said they lacked the confidence to use learning technologies. Additionally, they expressed a desire for additional training and experiences to build their confidence.
- Sixty-five percent of EPPs are currently updating their curricula to facilitate the development of digital pedagogy skills.
“To create learning experiences that tap into the power of technology to achieve greater equity and to transform education, teachers must not only understand how to use technology but also know when, where, how and why to integrate it,” the report reads.
2 institutions that model effective teacher prep
Despite the researchers suggesting that there’s work to be done for higher ed institutions and their EPPs, several colleges and universities already understand the importance of equipping aspiring teachers with the digital skills necessary to thrive in modern education.
The University of Central Arkansas (UCA), for instance, has leveraged partnerships so that every student has access to a device. Jason Trumble, associate professor of education, said in the report that he makes sure his students “think critically about the technology they are using” as they consider designing lesson plans and instruction to meet learning standards. Candidates are also assessed on their instructional technology use during internships.
At Utah Valley University (UVU), students develop teacher competencies through hands-on experiences. Students are required to enroll in an “Equitable Technology Integration” course where they leverage a mobile STEM lab and creative learning studio to gain real-world experience as it relates to edtech.
The university also brings in K12 students to an “on-campus maker space” to work with aspiring teachers.
“[P]reservice teachers don’t usually see that level of integration when they’re out in their field experiences,” said Krista Ruggles, associate professor of elementary education.
UVU Dean Vessela Ilieva said in the report that the university is committed to ensuring future educators are digitally ready before they step foot in the classroom for the first time.
“Our plan focuses on developing these teaching competencies so candidates become leaders in instructional technology and deepening our partner collaborations,” Ilieva said.