Technology and Teacher Preparation

projecttomorrowAspiring teachers want more digital avenues for learning, says a new report from Project Tomorrow.

The findings are included in the report Learning in the 21st Century: Digital Experiences and Expectations of Tomorrow’s Teachers, prepared by Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow, which includes findings from the Speak Up for Aspiring Teachers survey of nearly 1,400 college students in teacher preparation programs during spring 2012. The data collected from the aspiring teachers was compared with the results of the surveys completed by 36,477 in-service K-12 teachers and 4,133 administrators during Speak Up surveys from fall 2011.

Since 2007, Project Tomorrow has collaborated with Blackboard Inc. to create a series of annual reports that focus on key trends in the use of technology to increase student achievement, teacher productivity and parental engagement. This new report is the latest in the series and provides new insights that will inform college and university based teacher preparation programs as well as the induction and professional development processes within K-12 schools and districts. Tomorrow’s teachers may have the keys to finally unlock the potential of technology to transform teaching and learning, but much depends upon their experiences in their preparation program and how well future school leadership can support their expectations for essential technology tools and resources.

Highlights from the report include the following:

  • Aspiring teachers are tapping into emerging technologies such as social media and mobile devices to self-prepare themselves for their future teaching assignments. For example, tomorrow’s teachers are leveraging social networking sites and discussion boards as informal professional development sources to complement their formal coursework.
  • In spite of their comfort with using technology tools, the aspiring teachers say that their field experiences as student teachers and observing their professors are the best way for them to learn about how to integrate technology within instruction.
  • School principals have high expectations for the pre-service technology experiences of their future teachers. The specific technology tools and techniques that the aspiring teachers are learning to use in their methods courses however do not match the expectations of those school principals.
  • Aspiring teachers place a high value on the role of technology to both impact student academic success and their own effectiveness as a teacher.
  • Thinking about their future teaching assignment, aspiring teachers consider access to technology tools and resources to support instructional plans as one of the top five factors that will determine their future success as a teacher.

Future teachers want more digital, mobile and social technology integrated into their training and, in turn, their future classrooms, according to a survey report released from Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow®. According to the report, nearly 50 percent of students in teacher training programs use online podcasts and videos and turn to social networking sites to self-train for future teaching assignments.

The tendency for tomorrow’s teachers to leverage technology is a direct result of their own experience as “active learners” – students who expect technology to extend teaching and learning. The report finds that over half of the aspiring teachers polled (58 percent) are taking online classes and nearly the same amount (52 percent) use digital textbooks as a part of their education experience.

The findings, intended to inform preparation and professional development programs for new teachers, also reveal that today’s principals have high expectations for the use of technology in classrooms. Over 80 percent of principals polled want their future hires to use digital tools to connect and communicate with students and their parents.

“Due to increased access to digital learning tools throughout their lives, aspiring teachers gravitate toward online collaboration, which translates to a more self-directed teaching approach,” said Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow. “The correlation between an educator’s familiarity with technology, and the strong likelihood of using that technology within instruction, is a good way to predict the future classroom.”

The survey also found that over 40 percent of students in teacher training programs sought career guidance online from educators outside of their institution, demonstrating the important role that access to and fluency in technology tools can play in their future success.

“In order to be effective in the classroom and create an engaging learning environment, a great teacher needs to realize that children today are exposed to a vast amount of technology outside of the classroom, and when they walk into a classroom, they are walking back in time,” said an aspiring elementary school teacher from Purdue University that participated in the survey.

To access the report, see