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Straight from the source: T21Con provides preservice teachers with hands-on experience with technology

group shot at Teaching in the 21st Century Conference

For three years running, the College of Education has hosted the Teaching in the 21st Century Conference (T21Con). The conference provides preservice teachers with knowledge and hands-on experience using educational technologies from vendors and teacher experts.

This year, Metcalf School teachers Fred Basolo and Amanda Stalets ’06 brought four of their eighth grade students to the conference to participate in a question and answer session with preservice teachers on the topic of educational technology.

The session took place in the conference’s “technology commons” where vendors and teachers demonstrated the newest educational technologies. Metcalf School’s lead technologists, Wes and Lisa Matejka, were on hand to demonstrate devices used in the laboratory schools and to help facilitate the session.

“The preservice teachers really wanted to know what our students thought of the different technologies, and not only if they would help, but how,” Wes Matejka ’00, M.S. ’06, said.

Stalets said her students were able to describe all of the pieces of technology on the table and could explain to the preservice teachers how they were used in their classes.

They also articulated other ways they could see them being used.

The conversations that transpired between the middle-level students and preservice teachers demonstrated the changing perspective of technology use in the classroom.

The preservice teachers anticipated that the middle-level learners would not express more than a passing interest in using technology for education rather than fun and leisure. These beliefs were rebuffed.

Stalets and Basolo said integration of technology in the classroom is not just helpful, but necessary. And their students affirmed the understanding that technology can enhance learning if it is used appropriately.

The aspiring teachers listened as the eighth graders spoke about the impact technology has on their learning and comprehension and its role in their personal expression, especially through connections on social media.

“Learning about technology integration is important to both current and future teachers because it is such a large part of how students learn,” Basolo said. “The different technologies provide a much more efficient and relevant way to teach students of all ages.”

“Living in such a digital world, students do not learn the same way we did going through school,” Stalets said. “Their lives are centered around technology; they really need to use it in the classroom.

T21Con is organized by the College of Education and Students Using and Integrating Technology in Education (SUITE), and is sponsored by a generous gift from Mary F. and Robert J. English.