Preparing K-12 Teacher Candidates with Digital Pedagogies (Mellon Project Report)

Dr. Shahid and I originally proposed to use SMART notebook software to create interactive lessons and to support students in creating interactive lessons in the proposed teaching areas in our Education 475 class. We also proposed to integrate iPads to make lessons more interactive as well. Our goal was to model pedagogies and tools being used in K-12 classrooms.  

Since our update from last year, we have acquired all the hardware and software needed for the project. In the fall of 2016, Dr. Weems, Dr. Shahid, and I consulted with Dr. Pelzel and used to get more proficient with the SMART notebook software and interactive white board use. The learning curve for the software turned out to be steeper than anticipated so we are still in the process of learning how to create effective SMART lessons. In 2017-2018, I hope to implement our original goal of creating/using three interactive lessons.

Since attending digital pedagogies professional development opportunities and last year’s colloquium, my thinking on how and when to integrate digital pedagogies has evolved beyond one particular platform and course to thinking about the SAMR model associated with the work of Dr. Ruben Puentedura shown below and our ATP program as a whole.

In looking at our project through this lens, I realized that while the SMART notebook software will allow us to augment instruction by building interactivity into the PowerPoint slides we already use, there are educational apps that can reach the higher levels of the model and help us to “transform” rather than “enhance” teaching and learning. In trying to learn ways to reach these higher levels, I included attending an ed tech conference as part of my sabbatical plan. This provided me with funding to attend the Texas Computer Education Association Convention and Exposition in February of 2017.

The conference was one of the best educational conferences I’ve attended in my 17 years in education. As many of the attendees and presenters were associated with school districts, I was introduced to digital tools/apps that classroom teachers are using to transform their lessons. As our goal in using digital pedagogies in the teacher education classroom is to prepare our teacher education candidates for K-12 schools, this conference helped me see what our teacher candidates need to be prepared for managing a classroom of their own.

Short term goals

Some of the apps I hope to introduce my own teacher education students to in the near future include:

  • Nearpod. Allows for a presentation to include interactive, real-time questions.
  • Touchcast StudioEasy, quick app for creating teacher or student videos; has a teleprompter function.  

Longer Term goals

One of the main learnings from the conference was that a large number of districts are using Google Classroom as their information management system (similar to Moodle). It is important that we prepare our teachers for districts that will expect them to manage their courses through an online platform such as this. Moodle allows them to learn how to use such a system but we might want to give our candidates opportunities to design online assessments that can be administered and graded through Google Forms and to communicate and collaborate using tools such as Google Drive, Google Slides etc.

Our graduates will also be expected by the state teacher evaluation tool to teach with digital tools (i.e. educational apps) that engage learners in creating, not just consuming, digital content. I am thinking through how to best introduce our students to the skills and tools they will need without overwhelming them. After the conference I have been wondering how useful it might be to create opportunities for our ATP students to work on completing self-paced modules such as Google or Apple certifications together as preparation for their career and/or as a professional development opportunity once they are in the field. I am also thinking about what formats best foster learning about and using digital pedagogies. The AC Digital Pedagogies initiative has been helpful in thinking through the importance of choice/interest and scope in inspiring and sustaining continued learning and innovation.

I look forward to talking more with the department about how we can implement digital pedagogies in a way that will inspire and sustain K-12 teacher candidates in the ways the AC Digital Pedagogies Initiative has done for us.