To fully understand the 21st Century context of computing in PK-12 and teacher education learning environments, teacher candidates need exposure, training, and practical application of methodologies with the hope that candidates will in turn provide progressive, authentic socially mediated experiences that allow their students to understand content in meaningful ways. In today’s digital native culture, young teachers and students are largely comfortable using progressive technology for entertainment and as tools for productivity in their non-academic lives, making this type of classroom integration a natural extension of what they, many times, already know and do. Our role, then, is to facilitate the pre-service teacher’s ability to make sound decisions in regards to implementation of technology to support best teaching practices for any given lesson or professional task. Moreover as college-level educators, it is imperative that we model the regular, practical use of progressive forms of technology in our own teaching and interactions with pre-service teachers.
To this end, when considering a tool that can facilitate this mental model and paradigm shift, tablets have become a natural choice. As a bridge between the smartphone and laptop, teacher educators are provided a more streamlined device capable of robust computing. Issues of cost, portability, and complexity have parity in this tool and allow for flexibility to make sound theoretical and pedagogical decisions about when and where technology should be integrated. Finally, many educators are among the millions who have already purchased and integrated these devices into their own lives, giving them a relative level of familiarity.
Over the next two installments (Parts 3 and 4) I will be exploring the tablet tools that provided significant enhancements to teacher workflow, especially for teacher education faculty, in two domains: tablet teaching methodologies and data collection/observation/reflection during field experiences.