Teacher Colleges Pressed to Commit to Improving Future Educators’ Tech Skills

Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Education and a leading ed-tech nonprofit are pressing colleges of education to publicly commit to better preparing future teachers and administrators to be good consumers of technology.

Teacher preparation programs nationwide are being called on to sign a pledge, announced today by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the department of education.

The goal of the effort, called the Digital Equity and Transformation Pledge, is to encourage these programs to help new teachers “gain the digital skills needed to support learning in today’s classrooms,” according to the announcement — a reflection of the increasing urgency for colleges to retool to prepare students for evolving technology demands.

“Knowing how to use technology to support student learning is an essential skill for teachers to thrive in a post-COVID world,” ISTE CEO Richard Culatta said in a statement.

“As a country, we have made an unprecedented investment in technology in education– but true transformation and innovation doesn’t come from putting devices in schools, it comes from preparing teachers to use technology in innovative and engaging ways.”

Culatta led the Department of Education’s office of ed tech during the Obama administration.

He now oversees ISTE, an organization focused on using technology to improve teaching and learning. The organization has a heavy focus on improving teachers’ professional skills, and is probably best known for staging a national conference that draws thousands of educators every year.

Most teachers, principals, and administrators say their teacher college programs fell short in preparing them to vet vendors and integrate new digital tools, EdWeek Market Brief recently found in a nationally representative survey.

Across every category – their ability to evaluate ed-tech quality, judge appropriateness of the technology, know whether it protects student privacy, make smart purchasing decisions, and implement products after buying them – the majority of survey respondents said they were poorly or not at all prepared for that work.

Only about a third of district administrators, principals, and teachers surveyed say they are well-prepared to evaluate whether ed tech is appropriate for their students, according to the survey.

When it comes to implementing ed tech — making it work in the classroom, or in district offices — 31 percent of respondents say they are well prepared, while 40 percent say they aren’t prepared at all.

The new pledge asks teacher prep programs to commit to five goals:

  • Prepare teachers to thrive in digital learning environments;
  • Get teachers ready to use technology to pursue ongoing professional learning;
  • Prepare teachers to apply frameworks to accelerate transformative digital learning;
  • Equip all faculty to continuously improve expertise in technology for learning; and
  • Collaborate with school leaders to identify shared digital teaching competencies.

More than a dozen teacher preparation programs have already signed the pledge, including those based at Arizona State, California State Dominguez Hills, Eastern Michigan, Georgia State, Johns Hopkins, Northern Michigan, and University of Wyoming colleges.

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Image by Getty

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