David Magolis and Michael Homishak
Purpose: Computer-based presentations are the expected form of instruction in education; however, little knowledge exists about perspectives and attitudes on the use of technology and technical communication in the classroom through preservice teachers’ experiences. Therefore, the focus in our explorative study is to understand these perspectives and attitudes to aid in the development of technology and technical communication curriculums for preservice teachers.
Method: A phenomenological research approach was used to interview ten preservice teachers to explore the question, “what is the nature of preservice teachers’ experiences with technology and technical communication in the classroom?”
Results: Preservice teachers’ educational experiences with technology and technical communication show a strong preference for using Microsoft PowerPoint to convey course content. However, a major theme from their perspectives and attitudes was negative toward formal PowerPoint communication training. Furthermore, participants stressed the over reliance on PowerPoint in the classroom; they desired more creativity and better ways of communicating course content.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence worthy of serious reflection on the reality that there is a significant issue in teacher education curriculum today and the ineffective use and instruction of technology and technical communication in educational settings.
Keywords: instructional, technologies, preservice, teachers, training
- Preservice teachers need proper technology and technical communication training and are not currently receiving it in their teacher preparation programs.
- A technology curriculum that includes technical communication needs to be developed for preservice teachers.
- Instead of sufficient use of technology preservice teachers note an over reliance of technology instead of subject mastery.
- The scope of instructional technologies used in the classroom are limited to mostly PowerPoint.
In the 1960s, computers began to be used in schools, mainly for administrative purposes at first. In the years following, vocational programs began teaching computer maintenance and a limited amount of computer-aided instruction was used in the classroom. This marked the first period of time in which computers were used in schools (Schifter, 2008). Nearly a decade later, in 1976, Apple released the first computer designed for personal use. Subsequently, educational institutions from elementary schools to universities began to implement technology even further into the curriculum. Since this introduction to more integrated educational technology, computers and other technologies have become increasingly prevalent in schools and learning environments. Rapid advancements in technology allow new tools to integrate themselves into all facets of learning, and this integration is occurring as fast as advancements are being made. The latest hardware and software has become a staple of use at home, in schools, and in the workplace. With learning and working environments experiencing a shift toward more student-centered, differentiation, and multimedia concentrated approaches, successful integration of communication technology in the classroom is imperative. Both schools and businesses are using the latest technologies daily to complete tasks and objectives more efficiently and accurately (Shelly, Gunter, & Gunter, 2010). Since the advent of computer communication technologies in the classroom, the effect of that technical communication in the classroom has steadily increased in importance.
To keep up with the perpetually growing dependence on new technology in everyday life, students must be exposed to and familiarized with new technology in learning environments. Several studies have shown that the effective use of technology in the classroom has positive effects on learning and attitudes toward learning (Lee & Spires, 2009; Olalere & Olufemi, 2010). To effectively use and implement current technology, preservice teachers must have sufficient instruction. It comes as no surprise that the majority of institutions, which educate future teachers, are found to include technology and computer-related courses to prepare teachers to use these resources in the classroom (Yildirim, 2000). Between 1999 and 2004, the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology program spent over 337 million dollars assisting teacher preparation programs in effectively integrating technology training. Along with this, a United States Department of Education report (Smerdon, 2000) noted that “teachers’ preparation and training to use education technology is a key factor to consider when examining their use of computers and the internet for instructional purposes” (p. iii).
A study by Kay (2006) noted that meaningful technology has a significant positive effect on learning, and preservice teacher education is a natural setting to begin this education. Meaningful technology communication use must be present in modern day classrooms to adequately prepare students for future usage. As noted by Teo (2008), teachers are “key drivers who play crucial roles in technology integration in the schools and classrooms. It is important for them to possess positive computer attitudes since attitudes have been found to be linked to usage and intention to use, variables that determine successful technology integration in education” (p. 421).
Preservice teachers are aware that technology integration will become a regular aspect of their daily classroom lessons. Ideally, preservice teachers will have had the appropriate education on technology integration and technical communication to be able to seamlessly integrate each into an educational setting in a way that will enrich students’ learning and provide new, meaningful activities. However, Milken Exchange on Education Technology and the International Society for Technology state “in general, teacher-training programs do not provide future teachers with the kinds of experiences necessary to prepare them to use technology effectively in their classrooms” (Milken Exchange on Education Technology, 1999, p. i). Therefore, more rigorous research needs to examine how technology communication is being used and the attitudes of the preservice teachers. Kay (2006) explains that, “more rigorous and comprehensive research is needed to fully understand and evaluate the effect of key technology strategies in preservice teacher education” (p. 385). The research question explored in this study is, “what is the nature of preservice teachers’ experience with technology in the classroom?” The goal of this research is to explore preservice teachers’ educational experiences with technology, their attitudes toward formal technology training, and attitudes toward technology communication in the classroom.
Review of Relevant Literature
The significance of this research lies upon the gap between technical communication education of preservice teachers and their attitudes and eventual implementation of technology into the classroom. Lam (2006) found that attitudes and perceptions of technology weighed heavily on teachers’ decisions regarding technology integration. Teachers who did not use technology as regularly in the classroom stated that it was due to their personal perception of technology’s impact on student needs, their prior training with technology integration, administrators’ attitudes toward technology use, and their perceived skill and knowledge with technology. Another study by Teo, Lee, and Chai (2008) assessed teachers’ perceptions on technology use. This study found significant correlations between perceived usefulness and effectiveness of technology with teachers’ attitudes concerning technology use. They also noted that teachers’ attitudes toward technology play a critical role in their actual implementation of technology into the classroom, and positive attitudes regarding technology are correlated to more successful technology use in the classroom.
Just because technology is used for teacher preparation in an institution does not mean that it is automatically effective. A study by DeGennaro (2010) notes that technology classes taught separate from regular education classes are ineffective, as it insinuates the notion that technology and education are separate disciplines. DeGennaro stresses that this disconnect in the two subjects leads to improper modeling for preservice teachers. The study suggests an integration of the two disciplines throughout the whole of training. A question to be asked is how it can be known if technology integration in preservice teacher training is effective. This will assist in the design of meaningful technology education in teacher preparation programs.
A way to determine how effective technology education is in preservice teacher training is to assess attitudes and perceptions of technology in preservice teachers. It is interesting to note the difference between implementation of technology in an educational setting, and the attitudes toward technology use in these types of settings. A study assessing the use of technology in higher education found that students agree that it does not matter as much what kind of technology is used, rather how well the instructor can use it (Kyei-Blankson, Keengwe, & Blankson, 2009). In the study, one student stated that improper technology use due to low competency or overuse is actually “detrimental to students’ learning” (Kyei-Blankson, Keengwe, & Blankson, 2009). Noting this, it is imperative that educators have the knowledge to effectively implement technology into the classroom, and preservice teachers must also be as knowledgeable so they can provide the same effective technology integration to their future classrooms. They must be competent enough to not only navigate new programs and networks, but also to use this technology in a way that it will supplement learning (Lee, & Spires, 2009). This technical communication competency from training is incredibly important to preservice teachers’ knowledge of technology as well as their confidence and frequency of use (Shapley, Sheehan, Maloney, & Caranikas-Walker, 2010).
According to Mackiewicz (2007), “since the publication of Tufte’s The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, academic and industry experts in technical communication have intensified their efforts to develop guidelines for creating effective presentations” (p.149). This leads to the question, how has the education sector intensified its efforts to develop technical communication guidelines? Accordingly, what are preservice teachers’ attitudes and experiences regarding technical communication used in a classroom? This study does not include questions guiding participants to specific types of technical communication, but PowerPoint was inevitably mentioned during every interview, especially in regards to training and misuse. The technical communications literature explores both the theoretical (see for example, Doumont, 2005; Farkas, 2005; Manning & Aware, 2006; Gross & Harmon, 2009) and empirical studies (Alley & Neely, 2005; Mackiewicz, 2007) which helps guide educators’ technical communication training. However, research on PowerPoint use in the classroom has yielded mixed findings (Berk, 2011). Studies have shown that students generally perceive PowerPoint as having a positive effect on the learning experience. Studies have stated that PowerPoint provides structure to lessons, improving ability to organize lessons and present clear information (Susskind, 2008). It is also noted in a study by Craig and Amernic (2006), that students positively perceive PowerPoint because of its novelty and availability for printed copies. PowerPoint has also been shown to increase the perception of an instructor’s credibility and knowledge. A study by Atkins-Sayre et al. (1998) noted that when instructors used presentation graphics such as PowerPoint, students not only were more interested in the lesson, but also believed the instructor’s delivery was enhanced and their credibility increased.
Although there is research showcasing the benefits of PowerPoint software, particularly regarding student efficacy, there is also research which shows that PowerPoint is not truly effective. According to a study by Craig and Amernic (2006), there is little empirical evidence on the actual effectiveness of PowerPoint in learning, and previous studies on this topic show there is no significant improvement in learning and grades due to teaching with PowerPoint. Susskind (2008) cites several studies that have found an increase in student performance after being taught with PowerPoint, but also many studies that have shown no student improvement after implementation of PowerPoint. Craig and Amernic also list many studies that did not show a significant increase in student performance after using multimedia presentations.
Although there is concern about the misuse of technology in the classroom, its use continues to remain high. The increased use of technology can also lead to increased reliance on technology. A study done by Grunwald Associates for PBS in 2010 indicates that teachers are becoming increasingly reliant on technical communication in the classroom. This survey found that the use of the internet, portable computers, smart boards, and online communities were all trends in technical communication education that teachers use and feel are good educational tools. Therefore, it is imperative that we study preservice teachers’ perceptions of technology and technical communication training in teacher preparation programs.
The purpose of this multi-perspective phenomenological study was to explore the educational experiences and perspectives that preservice teachers have with technology and technical communication. Through the use of semi-structured interviews and participant observation, the study aimed to better understand and give voice to preservice teachers’ use of technology, as well as explore their attitudes toward technology use in the classroom. This research will provide insight into the training and preparation of preservice teachers’ technical communication, for this is a growing aspect of the teacher education curriculum. To date, little research exists that gathered perspectives of preservice attitudes and uses of technology.
Kay (2006) comprehensively reviewed the literature on strategies used to incorporate technology into preservice education. Kay explains that “there is clearly a role for qualitative research in assessing the effectiveness of specific technology strategies” (p. 389). One method is to “follow more rigorous protocols in collecting and analyzing qualitative data” (p. 389). Our goal was to rigorously collect and analyze the participant interviews.
DeGennaro (2010) notes that qualitative research is important to effectively study socialized activity. This literature states that data collected via surveys reduces the meaning of participation. With quantitative studies using data-collecting methods such as surveys, participants are directed to a series of predetermined responses. Afzal (2006) notes that overuse of surveys will only “create snapshots of behavior” that do not provide a deeper understanding of social situations (p. 23). It is stated that ethnographic strategies can lead to a deeper understanding of particular situations (van Manen, 1998). By using qualitative research and interview methods, active participation and self-directed responses are promoted. These non-guided answers will lead to the access of more authentic, in depth attitudes and perceptions. Maxwell (2004) states that qualitative analysis can lead to understanding of mechanisms of association, which is more complicated than finding the association between two variables. Qualitative research enabled us to investigate a more complex thought process of our study group, with the goal of finding a deeper understanding of attitudes and perceptions of technology and technical communication in education. Therefore, we asked the question: what are preservice teachers’ perspectives and attitudes on the use of technology in the classroom? What follows is a study that explores preservice teachers’ educational experiences with technology, their attitudes toward formal technology training and attitudes toward technology utilization in the classroom.
Guiding questions for the study:
- What is the nature of preservice teachers’ educational experiences with technology and technical communication?
- What are preservice teachers’ attitudes toward their formal technology training?
- What are preservice teachers’ attitudes toward technology and technical communication in the classroom?
- From their perspective, are preservice teachers receiving enough training on the latest teaching and communication technologies?
Research related to preservice teachers and technology has made great strides in the past few years. However, there is very little that explores technology from preservice teachers’ own vantage points. A phenomenological research method provides first-hand insight into preservice teachers’ attitudes and perspectives on technology in the classroom. “Research methods are plans used in the pursuit of knowledge. They are outlines of investigative journeys, laying out previously developed paths, which, if followed by researchers, are supposed to lead to valid knowledge” (Polkinghorne, 1989, p. 41). A phenomenological research method (Moustakas, 1994) was employed to obtain preservice teachers’ perspectives and attitudes on technology. “Phenomenology does not produce empirical or theoretical observations or accounts. Instead, it offers accounts of experienced space, time, body, and human relation as we live them” (Van Manen, 1998, p.184). Seidman’s (2006) interview protocol method was utilized as the primary data collection approach. The interview method included three in-depth, semi-structured, and iterative interviews, averaging one hour in duration, with ten secondary education preservice teachers that teach in rural areas and in school districts that educate approximately 2,000 students. Our goal was to interview each preservice teacher on three separate occasions, each of which were audio recorded. The first interview asked participants to share as much as possible about educational experiences with technology and technical communication. The second interview focused on eliciting the details of the lived those educational experiences. The final interview provided a reflection on the meaning the participant attaches to the technology and technical communication experiences. After the interviews, the audio was transcribed verbatim and subsequently analyzed for interpretive themes.
The data was analyzed following the Dahlberg et al. (2008) phenomenological approach. Two researchers individually read the whole data set, which included all transcripts and field notes, along with memos generated from the interviews. After acquiring a firm comprehension of the entire data set, the researchers read each interview and brief memos were generated for the individual interviews. The interviews were read a third time before the interviews were coded line-by-line. Line-by-line coding generated meaning units from the participants’ statements concerning the phenomenon. Those meaning units were then discussed and analyzed by the researchers during five separate periods to identify common themes. A total of eight meaning units were identified and clustered (based upon similarities) into general themes. A theme captures a unique aspect of the data connected to the research question and represents some level of patterned response or meaning within the data set (Braun & Clark, 2006). The researchers continued to analyze the transcripts, memos and field notes until no more themes were discovered and the data reached a point of saturation (that is, no new additional insights were generated). Once the codes were examined across all interviews, themes emerged to form the basis of the findings. The following are the resulting themes representing the essence of the participants’ lived experiences. The themed responses from the analysis phase are below. Each preservice teacher’s profile is given below.
Table 1 provides an overview of the participants’ characteristics.
Participant 1 was a female early childhood education major. At the time of the interview, she was a junior at the college she attended. She stated that she has been using computers and technology since she was approximately 8 years old. She uses computers, cell phones, and the Internet on a daily basis.
Participant 2 was a female secondary education Spanish major. At the time of the interview, she was a senior at the college she attended. She stated that she has been using computers and technology since she was approximately ten years old. She mainly uses an iPhone daily.
Participant 3 was a female early childhood education major. At the time of the interview, she was a junior at the college she attended. She stated that she has been using technology for “many years,” but did not note at what age she began using technology. She uses computers and smartphones on a daily basis.
Participant 4 was a male secondary education English major. At the time of the interview, he was a sophomore at the college he attended. He stated that he has been using computers and technology since he was approximately thirteen years old. He uses iPods, computers, and cell phones on a daily basis.
Participant 5 was a female secondary education English major. At the time of the interview, she was a sophomore at the college she attended. When asked about how long she has been using computers and technology, she stated that she has used them “forever, basically.” She uses the Internet, computers, and gaming devices on a daily basis.
Participant 6 was a male secondary education English major. At the time of the interview, he was a senior at the college he attended. He stated that he has been using computers and technology since middle school. He stated that he uses computers on a daily basis.
Participant 7 was a female early childhood education major. At the time of the interview, she was a junior at the college she attended. She stated that she has been using computers and technology since elementary school. She uses computers, the Internet, and cell phones on a daily basis.
Participant 8 was a female early childhood education major with a concentration in deaf education. At the time of the interview, she was a junior at the college she attended. She stated that she has been using computers and technology since she was 5 years old. She uses computers and the Internet on a daily basis.
Participant 9 was a female secondary education biology major. At the time of the interview, she was a senior at the college she attended. She stated that she has been using computers and technology since elementary school. She mainly uses her cell phone on a daily basis.
Participant 10 was a female secondary education math major. At the time of the interview, she was a junior at the college she attended. She stated she has been using computers and technology for a long time, but did not explicitly state when she began using them. She mainly uses computers on a daily basis.
It should be noted that while creating the protocol for this study, the topic of PowerPoint presentation software was never used or emphasized. This study was based on the general overview of technology and technical communication used in an educational setting. While this was the case, discussion of PowerPoint software use was almost inevitable. In all preservice teacher interviews, participants brought up PowerPoint software use many times. Clive Thompson (2003) notes, “PowerPoint is the world’s most popular tool for presenting information. There are 400 million copies in circulation, and almost no corporate decision takes place without it” (p. 88). Over a decade has passed since these statistics, and with the further development of technology, these usage numbers have likely grown.
Theme 1: Daily Use and Personal Experience
As current studies have shown, personal technology use in students has remained high. Smith and Caruso found in a 2010 survey of students and technology that around 98% of students currently own computers (Smith & Borreson-Caruso, 2010). A study conducted by Gemmill and Peterson (2006) found that college students use technology between 7.51 and 10.2 hours a day. These data being accounted for, it is not a surprise that every student interviewed in this study stated that technology use was obviously a daily occurrence. Participant 2 stated:
I use the computer almost every day, probably all day long whenever I’m not in class, I guess if cell phones are considered technology, smartphones, everything like, I use that all the time.
While this highlights the frequency of technology use of one of the students, every other student that was interviewed stated explicitly that they used their computer daily.
Most believe that preservice teacher training in technology is critical to their technical communication competency in the classroom. Studies have noted the extent of formal teacher education directed toward the subject of technology use (Russell, Bebell, O’Dwyer, & O’Connor, 2003; Yildirim, 2000). The attitudes of students during the interviews conducted in this study do not align with the view that formal technology education is imperative for proper preparation and use, but rather believe that regular use, not training in the classroom, is responsible for preservice teacher technology preparation. When asked about where students received their technology training, all of the answers showed similar responses.
A lot of it came from my personal use and experiences, um, from growing up with my parents’ computers and stuff like that going on. (participant 2)
Most of it came from personal computer use just because of learning so early; you kind of just pick up things on your own. (participant 5)
Pretty much learning how to, like, use the Internet and stuff, I had figured out on my own. Like, we did have classes, but I had figured it out before we were taught it. (participant 7)
This is consistent with other statements and findings, including a statement by the United States Department of Education, expressing that some individuals believe teachers develop their technological competencies while growing up surrounded by computers, and this will transcend into their teaching practices (Russell, Bebell, O’Dwyer, & O’Connor, 2003).
Theme 2: PowerPoint Misuse and Proper Training
The ability to make concise, organized lists, graphics, and professional appearance are all elements of PowerPoint that cause it to be an enticing educational tool for current and preservice teachers. These features can keep the learner interested and stimulated, but the use of PowerPoint does not always create an overall positive outcome. Prior research notes the importance of using PowerPoint in a way that supplements a presentation. Craig and Amernic’s (2006) view that poor presenters use PowerPoint as a metaphorical crutch is a significant idea based on this notion. It is emphasized that educators should be comfortable presenting without PowerPoint before using the software, as it could be relied on too heavily. These ideas should be noted for preservice and novice teachers, who do not yet have extensive experience in presenting information in front of a classroom.
An individual must initially be able to deliver a strong presentation alone to be able to integrate PowerPoint effectively into a presentation without falling to the wayside of the slides themselves. Davies, Lavin, and Korte (2008) described PowerPoint as “the new, intangible version of the podium which to hide behind” (p. 5). This concern was specifically addressed by Participant 9, who stated that “[teachers] need to learn to, like, engage their students with it and not have it as, like, a crutch, just have it as, like, a teaching tool for them.” This present-speak-write model of teaching is similar to what Parker described in 2001. This was that instead of human contact, PowerPoint utilizes “human display,” in which information is presented from person to person, rather than being discussed. If there is such a prominent instance of this type of teaching occurring, and also little evidence that teaching with PowerPoint increases academic performance, then why do educators continue to use PowerPoint so regularly that it was the top subject mentioned in this study?
The general opinion of the preservice teachers was that the effectiveness of technology in the classroom has to do with the amount of training that an individual has had in using technology for the education setting. The subjects expressed that they believe teachers use technology blindly, as to just use it without having a specific purpose, or they are being pressed to use new technology without being properly trained with it.
The opinions expressed by the participants who are being prepared to teach is that current preservice educators are improperly trained in using technology, and therefore it becomes no help to students, and sometimes a hindrance. It was also noted by the preservice teachers that there are few classes that formally train preservice teachers to integrate current and new technologies into the classroom. As noted in a study on teachers and technology integration by Judson in 2006, there is a gap between the beliefs and attitudes toward use, and the actual practice. Thirty-two primary and secondary classroom teachers were assessed about their beliefs of technology, which were generally positive. When their actual use of technology was measured, no significant correlations were found between positive attitudes and actual practice of technology (Judson, 2006).
Theme 3: Technology Reliance
One theme that was prominent throughout the interviews with preservice teachers was the general concern about the over reliance of technology. This is a somewhat surprising trend, as most of the beliefs of technology use in the preservice teachers were positive. Although all preservice teachers stated they would like to use technology in the classroom, the concept of overuse and over reliance was brought up as an issue by 6 out of 10 interviewees. This was the most common response when asked if there are any negative results to technology in the classroom. Some preservice teachers’ attitudes aligned with the opinions noted earlier by Craig and Amernic, which stress that the teacher must be the primary educational force, and technology such as PowerPoint should only be a secondary supplement (Craig & Amernic, 2006). The way this is stated by preservice teachers is more as an issue that is currently happening or has happened to them, rather than a fear of this reliance happening in the future. Statements reflecting this include the following by Participants 4 and 3, respectively:
Teachers should primarily be the largest part of the educational process, and technology should be used to supplement those teachers and not to replace them… I would hope that this would not become the predominant force of education but rather would just, you know, supplement or add to, um, one-on-one direct instruction that’s already in place. (participant 4)
I think a lot of times teachers are relying too heavily on the technology and they’re doing everything on the Smart Boards or doing everything on projectors and everything. And I think that they really need to remember that for some subjects, especially, I think, math, you need to kind of individually instruct each student with manipulatives and you still need those hands-on experiences in order for them to learn. You can’t always rely on technology. (participant 3)
A final predominant attitude shared by several preservice teachers is that an overuse of technology may hinder the skills of both teachers and students in other academic areas. In the interviews, preservice teachers expressed their concern that an overreliance on technology may in turn cause a loss of proficiency in areas of schooling that may be thought as more traditional and less technological. Although the interview subjects generally did not respond with specifics about what would be hindered, all of the responses that expressed concern in this manner were similar. Selected themed responses concerning the loss of other skills due to technological reliance include the following:
Unfortunately, I think that there’s a lot of online classes and things like that that are being taken, but I think that’s where you lose a vital human element from your whole teaching experience and the learning experience. (participant 4)
Negative results would be the students being so hooked on the technology aspect… I don’t want them to lose, like, the basics of, like, writings things and, like, figuring out problems. And just because there’s technology, I don’t want all the other stuff to go out the door. (participant 10)
It is promising that preservice students can realize that there may be a reliance on technology. The fact that it is known may cause active thought of less meaningless technology reliance in the classroom. Participant 6 voiced his concern about technology reliance in the classroom. Throughout the interview, Participant 6 made a fairly disheartening statement about the future of technology use with teachers, based on his knowledge of misuse and reliance, but also on the perpetuating trends of use by previous and current teachers. In responding to a question, he said, “I guess I’ve fallen into the trap, too…”
Conclusions and Future Directions
In an age where technology and technical communication is used on a daily basis and integrated into almost every aspect of life, classrooms are being exposed to new technologies very rapidly. A new wave of educators have become far more proficient in personal use of the newest technical communications. The issue is whether or not these future educators can integrate new technical communications into the classroom in an effective and meaningful way. In interviewing 10 preservice teachers, it was apparent that they believed they were fairly proficient in technology and technical communication use, and were eager to effectively integrate technologies into their future classrooms. When asked about the technologies they would use, they generally stated the technical communication tool, PowerPoint, as well as a few other technologies, and did not have a detailed plan for integration. The preservice teachers interviewed noted that their previous instructors had generally used a narrow range of technologies in the classroom, sometimes using these technologies in a way that did not help students in the learning and teaching integration process. PowerPoint was overwhelmingly the most prominent technology noted in the interviews, and the preservice teachers’ attitudes were not positive toward this program as a form of technical communication in the classroom. We see this as a major shortfall in preservice teachers’ technology preparation. There is a wide variety of technologies available to teachers including applications that could potentially enhance learning that the only real repetitive mention of technology was PowerPoint. When asked about classes which taught technology in education, the majority of participants noted that they do not have access to a wide variety of technology and technical communication integration courses. Further evidence is that nothing was stated by the participants about instruction on the integration of technology into the classroom setting. Future research should explore the variety of technology and technical communications courses available to preservice teachers and the successful implementation of technology based upon those courses. Specifically, how does one design an effective preservice teacher technology curriculum?
The attitudes of preservice teachers in this study do not align with the view that formal technology education is imperative for proper preparation and use, but rather believe that regular use, not training in the classroom, is responsible for preservice teacher technology preparation. It was discovered that preservice teacher participants learned how to use technology on their own and not in a formal classroom setting. Future research should explore how technology and technical communication education translates to technology use in the classroom. Does more formal technology instruction for preservice teachers enhance their ability to use and integrate technology into the classroom?
Simply using PowerPoint, or the latest technology available, in a classroom does not directly result in an effective and meaningful learning environment. This study, and others before it, provides evidence worthy of serious reflection on the reality that there is a significant issue in today’s education system of the ineffective use of technical communication in educational settings. Technology and technical communication is being regarded as an important aspect of the future of education. Preservice teachers are exposed to some technologies and told that they will be integrating it into their classrooms. This will make these individuals eager to use this technology, but they have only been exposed to a narrow range of technologies, often used improperly. If preservice teachers experience their instructors using PowerPoint as the focal point of their lessons, they may be under the assumption that technology use generally means using PowerPoints as a lecture tool. Although the attitudes of these preservice teachers are aligned with effective use of technology in the classroom, they may not know how to actually implement the technology. If preservice teachers are not given the opportunity to effectively use technical communications in lessons, how will they have the skills to properly use it when they are teaching? More research needs to be conducted to ascertain if preservice teachers are capable of implementing technical communications in the classroom effectively. Educational technology for preservice teachers in higher education should focus equally on the proficient use of the technology and technical communication as well as the effective integration of it. If future educators are not being properly trained in this manner, they will have a hard time implementing technology in the classroom. Preservice teacher programs should not only address the proper integration of technologies into various educational settings but give preservice teachers opportunities to develop the skills necessary to properly integrate these technologies into the classroom setting so that students are not only engaged in the lesson but are retaining and learning the subject matter.
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About the Authors
David Magolis is an associate professor of mass communications at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His primary areas of research include multimedia communications, media literacy, and emerging media technologies. Further information can be found at http://dmagolis.wordpress.com/. Contact: email@example.com
Michael Homishak is a biology teacher at Chesapeake High School in Baltimore County. He is an alumnus of Bloomsburg University, where he conducted research related to communication technology in cooperation with the University Honors Program. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuscript received 12 June 2014; revised 14 October 2014; accepted 21 October 2014.