In this paper I intend to describe two contrasting types of pre-service educational technology courses for teachers. The first is from the University of Iowa at which I spent some time in early 1987, the second is from the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education.
The educational technology theory and practice component of their course (if any) is generally taken during the student's Third Year, before s/he has had any practical experience in schools. At the University of Iowa there are two units which are taken by all undergraduate students in the elementary school program. These are "Audio-visual Equipment for Instruction" and "Introduction to Microcomputing for Teachers" and are each worth one credit hour; ie., one contact hour each week. The latter unit is also taken by all undergraduates in the secondary teaching program. Any educational technology theory or work on media selection and use is left up to the individual curriculum areas to teach, a situation with which we are also familiar in this country.
There is a more theoretical unit in Educational Technology, but the only students who do this three credit hour unit entitled "Selection and Use of Media for Instruction" are postgraduate students majoring in "Instructional Design and Technology".
In this paper I am essentially concerned with the non computing aspects of educational technology and will briefly outline the thrust of the first and third of the units mentioned above.
The students must pass three "Equipment checkouts" on projectors and on video and audio recording and playback. There are also six graphics production projects involving dry mounting, laminating, direct spirit master, thermal spirit master, thermal transparency and lettering. A seventh project involves taking photos on a copy stand.
In addition to the above there are also two multiple choice exams which must be passed at a 70% level of proficiency for a "Satisfactory" grading in the unit.
The students have access to a well equipped laboratory with extended, supervised operating hours. There is also a set of 15 short (average 5 minutes) videotapes which also demonstrate all of the processes and items of equipment. A textbook has also been written which covers the same areas (Mether & Bullard, 1984).
This unit is one credit hour of the 15 or 16 credit hours that a student would typically be doing in the semester.
Some of the ten objectives of the unit are:
From my observations of other American Universities, and from discussion with others at the A.E.C.T. Atlanta Conference, it appears that this is a fairly typical arrangement in American Teacher Education with regard to both practice teaching and the teaching of educational technology.
There are some advantages in this particular structure. Because it is a concentrated experience, with no other studies to distract the student, s/he is able to devote all his/her energies to the experience. Also because it is controlled by one Unit, a specialised department is usually set up with full time and part time specialised staff whose sole responsibility is the supervision of students. The use of "clinical" specialists is a better arrangement than that of drafting lecturers to help with supervision, regardless of their ability or interest, as tends to happen in Australian colleges. Disadvantages of the system are the extreme delay before allowing students to actually experience what teaching is like (and whether they are suited to it), and the lack of integration between theory and practice. This latter problem was readily conceded by a number of American educators with whom I spoke, but they also pointed out that the current system was so firmly entrenched that it was most unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. In terms of the educational technology units, the students did not get to use the materials they were producing, or the equipment they were practicing on, in the classroom. Thus the practical work was an isolated, academic exercise which was carried out in well equipped surroundings, rather than under the normal, less than ideal, classroom conditions.
It is this integration between theory and practice, particularly in the teaching of Educational Technology that brings us to the second case study.
The weekly lectures concentrate more upon encouraging students to use a variety of presentation methods, and allowing access for outside resource persons from the ABC and the "Newspapers in Education" project. Again the textbook contains most of the factual information, thus reducing the need for copious note taking in lectures. The lectures are used to illustrate the points made in the text rather than to duplicate the information. The Switched-on Teacher, the text which was written for the unit, contains many more ideas than could possibly be dealt with in a lecture situation and is designed to be a useful reference book during their later practices and for when they are actually teaching. It also contains an extensive chapter which involves a media selection model which the students are expected to be able to use as a guide to their lesson planning in the practice teaching situation.
In the second half of the semester the students do microteaching instead of attending school, and the lectures concentrate upon classroom management. In the last two weeks of the semester the lectures and workshops involve the use and operation of portable video equipment.
The specified items are:
The evaluation of the Folio (which is worth 35% of the Unit's marks) is based upon the quality of the materials presented, the completeness of the accompanying lesson plan and the amount of analytical thought that has gone into the student's self evaluation of the items.
In this Unit all production and practice is directed towards actual classroom use and as a by product, the opportunity for student dishonesty is reduced. As this "Resources Folio" is compiled from actual items which are used in practice teaching students do not feel that they are making "useless" or irrelevant items just to satisfy the requirements of assessment.
In the second half of the semester an equipment competency test (15%) is held to ascertain the actual competence and confidence the students have with the equipment. At the end of the semester the final examination (50%) is based in part on aspects of educational technology and partly upon lesson planning, media selection and classroom management. The combination of short answer and open ended questions in conjunction with an essay in all these three aspects completes the integration of theory and practice in this unit.
Heinich, R. et al, (1986). Instructional Media. Second Ed. New York: Macmillan.
Mether, C. E. and Bullard, J. R. (1984). Audiovisual Fundamentals. Third Ed., Dubuque, Iowa: William C Brown.
|Author: Brian Fowler, School of Education, Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education. Further information about the Unit and textbook can be obtained from the writer and enquiries should be addressed to PO Box 25, Darling Heights, Qld 4350.
Please cite as: Fowler, B. (1988). Integrating theory and practice in educational technology courses. In J. Steele and J. G. Hedberg (Eds), Designing for Learning in Industry and Education, 77-80. Proceedings of EdTech'88. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech88/fowler.html