Computer Learning Month: Preparing Pre-Service Teachers For The Technology-Driven Classroom


Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: October 22, 2015

Technology in the classroom has long been a controversial topic, but studies show more parents are welcoming it and the majority of Americans believe all K-12 classrooms will be plugged in in the next 10 years.  Faculty in the College of Education and Human Development are dedicated to ensuring Texas A&M graduates are ready for the technology-driven classroom.

“We had this discussion 30 years ago regarding small children and tv, then there were programs like Sesame Street.  There’s been long-term research that has shown that was actually beneficial,” said Dr. Radhika Viruru, clinical professor in early childhood development.  “I understand the caution but I think the opportunities it offers kind of outweigh some of the issues that might be there.”

The biggest change happening in the K-12 classroom now is the idea of a flipped classroom, a pedagogical model where the typical lecture and homework elements are reversed.  Teachers record video lectures and post them online so students can review them before class while in-class time is used for discussions, exercises and other projects. “When they get in class, the teacher can actually sit down and spend less time with the lecturing up in front of the class where it’s very teacher-centered and be around working with the students and having them more engaged,” said Dr. Rene Quiroz, coordinator of Instructional Design for the College of Education and Human Development.

Faculty in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture are helping prepare pre-service teachers for the flipped classroom with a required course on integrating technology into instruction, EDCI 365 Technology Integration.  The course outlines appropriate methods and applications of technology as it relates to K-12 education.  At the end of the semester, students are able to develop lesson plans to effectively integrate technology into their own classrooms.

Dr. Viruru along with Dr. Robin Rackley, clinical professor in early childhood development, are finding pre-service teachers know technology is important in their own lives, but they have a hard time thinking of how to implement it in their teaching.  “I think some of them are apprehensive because that’s not what they thought about when they decided to become a teacher,” said Dr. Viruru.

Technology is also giving teachers the ability to differentiate their instruction.  If you have a gifted and talented learner, they can study more independently while the teacher’s attention is focused on those students that need her help on that lesson.  “It can be individualized so not everyone in the class knows that they’re still working on the skill because they’re doing it privately, whether it’s on a mobile device or computer, it’s not shared with everyone,” says Dr. Rackley.

Not everyone is on board with having technology in the classroom.  Studies have shown that parents and teachers are mostly concerned about technology creating increased distraction, but Dr. Rackley believes technology can also improve student engagement.  “I recognize that if they’re sitting there with a notebook and a piece of paper, that doesn’t mean they’re engaged.  Can technology lead to engagement?  Absolutely.  Can technology distract from engagement?  Absolutely, but that’s personal responsibility.”

Dr. Quiroz believes some of that responsibility belongs to the teacher and teachers need to learn effective classroom management.  “If teachers are doing it wisely, they think of the technology first as a resource not as social.  It is social, but if you spend enough time using that device for learning, they’re going to see it as having that dual purpose.”

Technology can also lead to better relationships between parents and children.  Teachers can record their lessons and post them online and the parent can then watch the lesson and see how the teacher works through the problem so they’re better able to connect with their child and help with homework assignments.  “For parents to see what their children are doing in class and to even work on things together,” said Dr. Rackley, “it’s just made it so much more tangible because they can experience it alongside their child.”