A technology-infused preparation program establishes technology integration as a program-deep and program-wide initiative to support incoming teachers to teach with technology from day one as certified teachers. PK-12 preparation programs adopt a technology-infused approach because they want to address technology integration from beginning to end of the preparation experience in a concerted effort to support candidates. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK; Koehler & Mishra, 2009; Mishra & Koehler, 2006), a theory about the knowledge domains educators need to be proficient in teaching with technology, is foundational to an infused design. Foulger (2020) and Borthwick et al. (2020) advocate that technology-infused preparation programs comprehensively incorporate four pillars in their design: (a) technology integration curriculum, (b) modeled experiences, (c) practice with reflection, and (d) technology self-efficacy. Preparation programs that characterize their design based on the interrelatedness of the pillars (Williamson, 2023) will provide teacher candidates with the experiences necessary to graduate as certified teachers who are technologically capable. Graduates with strength in technology self-efficacy will intend to use technology in their future practice (Buss, 2020).
Technology infusion represents an ambitious design strategy delineating the characteristics of preparation programs that guide PK-12 teacher candidates through their higher education journey as they learn how to teach with technology. A primary goal of a technology-infused preparation program is to cultivate teacher candidates’ self-efficacy regarding integrating technology into their teaching practices. Technology infusion emphasizes the need for teacher candidates to engage with technology-integration learning experiences that ensure developmentally appropriate experiences, framing the learning process as a ubiquitous effort.
For effective implementation, all teacher education instructors and PK-12 mentor teachers involved in candidate training should actively contribute to fostering candidates’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK). Mishra and Koehler (Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Koehler & Mishra, 2009) have posited that educators proficient in technology have acquired TPACK–they understand how to represent their knowledge of technology, pedagogy, and content in PK-12 teaching and learning experiences, as illustrated in Figure 1.
A study on a technology-infused program revealed that the infused approach successfully nurtured teacher candidates’ TPACK development. Notably, the candidates’ experiences infusion instilled a forward-looking perspective and an interest in integrating technology into their future classrooms (Foulger et al., 2021).
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
To comprehensively conceptualize the design of a technology-infused program, preparation programs can guide their design by addressing four pillars: (a) a technology integration curriculum, (b) modeled experiences, (c) practice with reflection, and (d) technology self-efficacy as posited by Foulger (2020). As shown in Figure 2, the four pillars are distinct yet provide mutual influence by forming a cohesive and rich preparation experience for teacher candidates as they learn to integrate technology effectively.
Technology Infusion Design Pillar
Pillar 1: Technology Integration Curriculum
Pillar 1, the Technology Integration Curriculum, mandates that preparation programs establish a seamlessly integrated and developmentally appropriate curriculum that spans all facets of the preparation experience and intertwines content and pedagogy with technology. The technology integration curriculum must coherently support the connection of content to pedagogy, woven throughout all coursework and field experiences. The curriculum should explicitly align with National standards and content area guidelines and meet the expectations set by local PK-12 schools.
A curriculum that spans the breadth of a preparation program ensures that learning experiences expose teacher candidates to technology integration methods that align with their continually evolving capabilities. Teacher candidates who engage in technology-infused curriculum are supported to consider the local circumstances of PK-12 teaching and the broader contexts, such as technology availability in PK-12 schools and local policy.
The curriculum should introduce technology integration strategies gradually, building on the candidates’ existing knowledge and skills. Preparation programs should design methods to assess candidates to ensure they master technology integration, making adjustments where needed. The curriculum should ensure that candidates use technology tools and resources suitable for the different developmental levels and academic needs of PK-12 students. For more information about Pillar 1, see Warr et al. (2023).
Pillar 2: Modeled Experiences
Pillar 2, Modeled Experiences, accentuates the critical role of teacher preparation faculty and mentor teachers when working with teacher candidates in exemplifying proficient technology integration practices. Modeled experiences provide rich opportunities for teacher candidates to experience and analyze the entire teaching experience, including teaching design, teaching and learning activities, classroom management, plans for handling just-in-time technology troubleshooting, and assessment of PK-12 learners. Programs rooted in modeling principles empower candidates to develop a deep understanding and insight into technology’s role across diverse PK-12 settings.
Modeling provides powerful examples for teacher candidates, helping them develop their TPACK. Modeled experiences can positively influence teacher candidates’ internal perceptions about the use of technology, including (a) their critical examination of the use of technology, (b) their understanding of how knowledge of technology and pedagogy interrelate with content, and (c) their technology self-efficacy. Modeling experiences positively impact candidates’ motivation to learn about technology and their future intention to integrate technology.
The most exemplary modeling experiences involve teacher candidates as engaged and reflective practitioners. Preparation programs that offer an infused approach address modeling throughout the preparation experiences, and modeled demonstrations involve them teaching PK-12 students in their school environments. These experiences should include analysis and reflection activities that tie instructional practices to research-based theories, findings from empirical research, and the alignment to technology frameworks for effective technology integration. For more information about Pillar 2, see Jin et al. (2023).
Pillar 3: Practice with Reflection
Pillar 3, Practice with Reflection, underscores the essential need for teacher candidates to engage in varied and authentic teaching experiences. Through deliberate practice, candidates learn through experience about the intricacies of teaching with technology. These practice-oriented experiences leverage real-world PK-12 learning environments and prompt candidates to make theoretical justifications for their design of learning experiences. The progression of practice opportunities occurs across the entire preparation program and evolves in complexity to align with the candidate’s growing proficiency in technology integration.
Through practice with reflection, teacher candidates can overcome varied and real-world challenges. Practice with reflection provides iterative opportunities for teacher candidates to experience teaching in varied classroom settings. It can progressively move them from being a novice at technology integration to more expert performance, preparing them for a dynamic teaching environment as certified teachers. Real-world practice experiences can cultivate candidates’ ability to adapt and solve challenges to teaching that technology can address. A significant goal of practice experiences is that candidates learn how to address common challenges that could inhibit the growth of their self-efficacy.
The need for candidates to situate practice and reflection experiences in real PK-12 schools requires preparation programs to establish shared responsibility for teacher preparation with PK-12 school systems. Candidates benefit the most when they participate in practice-oriented preparation experiences where experienced others provide scaffolded experiences for teacher candidates. When preparation program design appropriately challenges candidates to increase their responsibilities, they can move from being successful with simulated microteaching activities with little or no risk of failure to student teaching responsibilities where they are fully responsible for the PK-12 students in their classrooms. For more information about Pillar 3, see Sprague et al. (2023).
Pillar 4: Technology Self-Efficacy
Pillar 4, Technology Self-Efficacy, concentrates on cultivating technology confidence in teacher candidates, ensuring they graduate with a robust belief in their proficiency in facilitating learning experiences with PK-12 students and using technology to address learning goals. Preparation programs excelling in this pillar empower candidates to perceive themselves as capable of meeting and surmounting the challenges when integrating, fostering a sense of readiness and competence.
Self-efficacious candidates have confidence in their technology teaching skills and feel that they are pedagogically and technologically capable of facilitating learning experiences that use technology to improve student learning outcomes. When circumstances cause a threat to the teaching and learning environment, candidates who are self-efficacious in their use of technology will quickly overcome any negative beliefs or attitudes that may arise and will take measures to guard their confidence. Self-efficacious candidates will know how to use theoretical frameworks and models for technology integration when the dynamic nature of technology presents challenges.
Preparation programs that infuse technology can influence candidates’ self-efficacy in technology by the way activities throughout the preparation experience are designed. Throughout the preparation experience, activities should (a) engage teacher candidates in hands-on, mastery-learning teaching experiences and self-assessment, (b) help candidates take advantage of observational experiences where they can learn vicariously through others, (c) provide opportunities for candidates to set goals for their future use of technology and work with coaches or mentors who provide personalized feedback on their teaching demonstrations, and (d) support candidates to personally review their emotional state as an indication of perceived beliefs. For more information about Pillar 4, see Williams et al. (2023).
The Interplay of the Four Pillars
The success of technology infusion in teacher preparation programs relies on the interplay of these four pillars (Foulger, 2020). Pillar 1, Technology Integration Curriculum, ensures that candidates are introduced to technology for teaching and learning early in their program and progress in complexity as they advance. Pillar 2, Modeled Experiences, complements the curriculum by providing real-world exposure to teaching that bridges the gap between theory and practice. Pillar 3, Practice with Reflection, provides candidates with opportunities to put their knowledge and skills into action. Finally, Pillar 4, Technology Self-Efficacy, brings the entire process full circle–candidates’ beliefs about their abilities to meet the everyday challenges of leveraging the power of technology for teaching and learning become part of their everyday responsibilities as certified teachers. Successful program designs that address all four pillars will have distinct characteristics with identifiable indicators, such as those described by Williamson et al. (2023), that span the entire preparation experience.
Challenges and Considerations
While technology infusion is an aspirational framework, designing and adopting a technology-infused approach has its share of challenges and considerations. Preparation program administrators will need to ensure equitable access for all candidates to appropriate hardware and software that meets minimal standards and keeps pace with the rapid evolution of digital tools and changing expectations regarding the effective and safe use of technology by PK-12 students. Preparation faculty and PK-12 mentor teachers may hesitate to support candidates’ development. PK-12 mentor teachers will need to take responsibility for ensuring that teacher candidates are well-versed in issues related to privacy, digital ethics, and responsible technology use. Overcoming these barriers will require a systems approach to change and recognizing that a paradigm change will be part of the adoption process (Foulger et al., 2019). Thus, leaders who champion the adoption of infusion will need to recognize that providing ongoing professional development opportunities for teacher education faculty (Foulger et al., 2017) and PK-12 mentor teachers is imperative to programs adopting an infused approach.
Technology infusion in teacher preparation programs represents a profound commitment to equipping future educators with the tools, knowledge, and pedagogical insights necessary for PK-12 teacher candidates to thrive in modern classrooms. This program-deep and program-wide approach is a paradigm that supports teacher candidates being well-prepared to independently and effectively teach with technology, ultimately enhancing the quality of education for their students and fostering their professional growth and adaptability, which is vital in an ever-changing educational technology landscape.
Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)
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