In a research study presented at the International Society for Technology in Education conference, Jana Gerard, coordinator of The EDvolution Center at Southeast Missouri State University, explores the acquisition of digital technology skills by student-teachers. In an interview with Education Week, Gerard emphasizes the significance of growth mindset in teachers’ learning and suggests strategies for developing educators’ ed-tech competence.
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- Gerard highlights the need to investigate how student-teachers gain digital skills and the specific skills they acquire. By understanding this process, educators can determine the level of preparedness of student-teachers for teaching and learning in the PK-12 setting. With technology being an essential skill for career readiness, it is crucial to comprehensively grasp the methods through which student-teachers acquire these skills.
- The research study found that the format of the class significantly influenced student-teachers’ learning outcomes. A blended-learning format, where student-teachers alternated between seated and asynchronous learning, yielded positive responses. This format facilitated smaller class sizes, stronger relationship-building, more hands-on demonstrations, and improved class discussions. Recognizing that technology is ever-evolving and embracing the idea of being lifelong learners prepares educators to adapt to future changes effectively.
- The research study highlighted the substantial influence of the digital competency of the professors teaching the course on student-teachers’ ed-tech skills. By providing funds and opportunities for professional development, teacher prep programs can ensure that their educators remain digitally competent, thereby enabling them to effectively assist student-teachers in acquiring digital skills.
Enhancing Digital Competence in K-12 Teachers, Principals, and District Leaders
The interview also provides insights into the implications for current K-12 teachers, principals, and district leaders. Here are the key takeaways for these stakeholders:
Influence of Digitally Competent Instructors on Students’ Competence
The digital competence of the instructor directly impacts the digital competence of students. This finding applies not only to student-teachers but also to in-service teachers. By prioritizing the digital competence of educators, schools can foster the development of digital skills in their PK-12 students. It is essential for schools to recognize the correlation between the competence of the instructor and the competence of the students they teach.
Providing Time, Space, and Resources for Professional Development
To ensure teachers’ digital competence, district leadership must allocate time, space, and funds for professional development opportunities. In addition to supporting teacher-educators in developing digital skills, it is crucial to find creative solutions such as ed-tech coaching or providing substitute teachers to allow educators to participate in professional development programs. Adequate funding and compensation for teachers’ learning time can significantly contribute to their digital competence.
Fostering a Growth Mindset about Technology
Encouraging in-service teachers to adopt a growth mindset regarding technology is vital. This mindset acknowledges that technology knowledge is not fixed but requires continuous learning and adaptation. In the era of artificial intelligence, embracing a growth mindset can be challenging, but it is crucial for teachers to accept that they may not know everything yet and be open to ongoing learning opportunities.
By understanding the process of acquiring digital technology skills and implementing strategies that foster growth mindset and digital competence, schools and districts can better equip educators to navigate the ever-evolving world of ed tech. Ultimately, this will empower teachers to effectively integrate technology into their teaching practices, benefiting their students’ learning experiences and preparing them for the demands of the future.
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