Developing a Computer Training Program to Enhance Technology Integration by School Administrators Term Paper

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¶ … Computer Training Program to Enhance Technology Integration by School Administrators

In recent years, globalization has sparked a revolution in information and communication technology, resulting in the emergence of a new era of educational instruction. As technology becomes more common it is imperative that leaders update their skills and begin to integrate technology into their leadership techniques. Using technology produces a more productive and professional leader. Technology reduces the hassle of administrative responsibilities while also providing ongoing opportunities for growth and learning for leaders and employees. This literature review examines the current state of research and reviews the resolutions for the reality of the use of technology for the development of a computer-training program to enhance technology integration by school administrators.

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The revolution in technology has had a strong impact on education. For example, few research tools are more beneficial to students than the resources available on the Internet. After more than two decades of research on the benefits of educational technology, studies have indicated several positive results on student achievement. In studies of large-scale statewide technology implementations, these efforts have been correlated with increases in students' performance on standardized tests (Egendorf, 2004). In addition, software supporting the acquisition of early literacy skills, including phonetic awareness, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, and spelling can support student learning gains (Egendorf, 2004). A review of the literature indicates that these technological advances cannot be applied without the training and knowledge of teachers and leaders in this technology.

The Importance of Technological Training for Teachers

Term Paper on Developing a Computer Training Program to Enhance Technology Integration by School Administrators Assignment

Although there has been a strong push to get educational technology into the hands of teachers and students, many obstacles to implementation still exist (Gahala, 2001). Research indicates that professional development activities may not provide ongoing, hands-on training for teachers or practical strategies for implementing technology into lesson plans. More than 90% of all schools are connected to the Internet, and more than 33% of teachers have Internet access in their classrooms, however, teachers readily admit that they are not making as much use of technology as they could (Gahala, 2001). According to an Education Week survey, nearly 30% of teachers said their students use computers only one hour per week; nearly 40% said their students do not use computers in the classroom at all (Trotter, 1999). Although technology is more prevalent in the schools, some important factors affecting whether and how it is used include new roles for teachers, time for ongoing professional development, and the appropriate coaching of teachers at different skill levels.

Technology integration brings changes to teachers' instructional roles in the classroom. Research indicates that the teacher's role in a technology-infused classroom often shifts to that of a facilitator or coach rather than a lecturer (Henriquez & Riconscente, 1998). As students become more self-directed, teachers who are not accustomed to acting as facilitators or coaches may not understand how technology can be used as part of activities that are not teacher-directed (Gahala, 20010. Teachers must become comfortable letting students move into domains of knowledge where they themselves lack expertise, and they must be able to model their own learning process when they encounter phenomena they do not understand or questions they cannot answer (Kozma & Schank, 1998). This means that learning the new roles and ways of teaching that go hand-in-hand with technology integration requires that teachers have opportunities to participate in an extended process of professional development. Teachers need time to acquire technology skills and develop new teaching strategies for integrating technology into the classroom (Gahala, 2001).

Since the technological skills of all teachers varies, school leaders must be prepared to develop personal plans for professional development that include goals for using technology. A computer program can be developed to enhance the use of technology in the individual classrooms. These programs can be competency driven, identifying specific areas where technology can be used effectively, and they can specify outcomes to be achieved using technology. Individual tutoring, peer coaching, collaboration, networking, and mentoring have been used successfully over extended periods to help teachers at all levels of technology implementation develop technology applications that promote engaged learning (McKenzie, 1994; Miller, 1998). As teachers begin to regard technology as a tool to accomplish instructional goals, they will learn best when engaged in meaningful projects that relate to their own classrooms (Gahala, 2001).

According to Gahala (2001), appropriate individualized support from peers as well as experts encourages teachers to experiment with new strategies for technology use. Teachers should have the option to participate in the type of workshops, seminars, and online professional communities that will help them use technology effectively. Research further indicates that offering incentives is an important aspect of a technology professional development program. Incentives help ensure that teachers who face escalating demands on their limited time receive the training they need to prepare their students for the technological workplace of the future (Gahala, 2001). Some incentives noted by researchers are financial incentives, such as compensation for professional development in technology on weekends or during summers.

Research by Gahala (2001) indicates that whenever possible, software-selection activities should involve teams of teachers. Gahala notes that teachers working together can plan curricular projects, develop and apply criteria for selecting software or Internet sites, engage in the evaluation of the use of specific software or Internet sites, and reflect upon how their teaching is changing through technology integration. Additionally, teaming can facilitate technology integration, especially when teacher teams reflect on their degree of success. According to Brand (1998), when teachers engage with others in ongoing reflection about what they learned about the instructional use of technology, they are more likely to critically evaluate their own pedagogical practice and redesign their instruction. Gahala (2001) also notes that technological competence should be considered as one aspect of teacher evaluation. Furthermore, job security could be linked to technological professional development by requiring technology-related professional development for contract renewal, or making technology professional development a requirement for recertification.

One of the most acknowledged problems in this area is that not all teachers are motivated to use technology. Teachers may resist for many reasons, including the fear that technology threatens their role as expert, and the feeling of inadequacy resulting from lack of prior mastery of technology skills (Saye, 1998). Teachers may value time-tested educational methods and believe that technology is just another educational fad (McKenzie, 1993; Saye, 1998). Gahala (2001) notes that although providing technology-training programs worthy of teachers' time is important, inducing all teachers to enhance their job skills may ultimately require stronger incentives than self-motivation.

Technology Development Programs

Some educational institutions have developed and implemented technological training programs in response to the growing need to educate teachers and leaders. In response to the technology goals specified in the Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994, the state of Georgia established the InTech Professional Development Program. Skills taught include the use of email, word processing programs, and Internet searches as well as software installation and evaluation (Brooks et.al., 2001). Program participants are also required to read articles about technology and to plan and implement technology-training lessons for their colleagues. In Georgia, teachers who had completed the InTech program were certified to redeliver, or train their colleagues at their school sites. Studies conducted by Brooks et.al. (2001) assessed how teachers felt about the different programs, the methods employed by the teachers to implement InTech training in elementary classrooms, and the factors that enhance or create barriers to technology use.

Brooks et.al. (2001) studied a variety of teachers in three elementary schools who had completed the InTech program. They posed questions such as whether the administrator supported the integration of technology in the classroom, whether additional training would increase the teacher's comfort level as they incorporated technology into lessons for the students, and whether the technology trainer influenced the teachers' use of technology. The study results indicated that two significant factors that had an impact on integration of technology in the classroom. The first factor was that teachers' computer proficiency increased after taking the InTech training program; the second factor was that technology trainers had a significant impact on teachers' learning. Teachers trained at the university-based programs had more positive experiences than those trained at the local level. Based on their findings, the researchers recommended that the school sites be supplied with more software and equipment to improve technology instruction.

The study results also indicated that the reported barriers to technology integration within classrooms included planning time, classroom management using the computer, and time restrictions because of scheduling conflicts. This agrees with a finding from the National Center for Education Statistics that, next to a lack of computers, lack of release time for teachers to learn technologies and lack of class time for students to use computers are barriers to teachers' technology use (Ezarik, 2001).

A review of the literature reveals that administrators and leaders face several challenges in the implementation if a computer training program. Research indicates that a significant challenge for administrators when planning professional development is to provide teachers with… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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