Why a growth mindset is important to teacher competency with ed tech.


The pandemic has highlighted the importance of current and prospective teachers understanding how to use educational technology effectively. To learn and learn.

For current teachers, those learning opportunities often come through professional development sessions. Hosted by their school or district. For incoming teachers, the onus is on preparation programs..

But how can student-teachers best acquire digital technology skills for teaching and learning? That’s the question Jana Gerard, director of the EDvolution Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s Innovation and Technology Lab, sought to answer in her research on the global technology community in education. Conference on June 26

In an interview with Education Week, Gerard discussed the importance of a growth mindset to teacher education and what current school and district administrators can do to develop teachers’ e-technology competencies.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Why is it important to know how student-teachers acquire digital skills?

There is much discussion around what ed-tech skills preservice teachers should have, or whether or not they should be in a stand-alone course. But little research has been done on how student-teachers develop those skills. How exactly did you learn them? It is important to understand how student-teachers acquire these skills and what skills they are acquiring, so we know how ready they are to teach and learn when they go out with their PK-12 students. Technology is not going away, and we know that this is a critical skill that everyone needs to be career ready.

What were the results of your research study?

One of the things I’ve found is that the format of the class is very important. [The format of the class in my research] It is a blended-learning format. The student-teachers are sitting [in class] One day, and a mismatch the next. The student-teachers responded well to that format. It allowed for smaller class sizes, better communication building, more hands-on demonstrations, and better class discussion.

Another finding is that classrooms should not only focus on teaching the technology. It was to prove that. [student-teachers have] Thinking about the development of technology. They had to be prepared for the fact that technology is constantly changing and they’re not going to be at the point where they say, ‘Oh, I know everything there is to know about technology,’ because that’s not how technology works.

Another thing that came out of it is that the digital competence of the professor teaching the course is a big factor in the success of student-teacher education. The professor who taught those classes was very digitally literate and had an impact on the student-teachers’ ability to acquire those ed-tech skills.

What should teacher preparation programs do to better prepare student-teachers to teach with digital technology?

Leadership in teacher preparation programs must find the time and space to support teachers and educators in becoming digitally competent so that they can spend the money and time on professional development to remain digitally competent. Because if they are not digitally competent, they cannot help their student-teachers become digitally competent.

What should current K-12 teachers, principals, and district leaders take away from this study?

One of the biggest takeaways is that the teacher’s digital competence affects the students’ digital competence. So that applies to in-service teachers as well—as our in-service teachers become more digitally competent, their PK-12 students become digitally competent.

It’s important to give those teachers that time and space and money to stay digitally competent. There are a lot of other things on the shoulders of teachers, so it’s up to district leadership to find ways—whether that’s e-tech training, getting money for substitute teachers so teachers can take some time off to do that professional development, or getting funding. Make up for the time spent doing the course.

And then a general growth mindset about technology—that’s something that underserved teachers need, too. The technology knowledge never ends – the mindset that they must be willing to be lifelong learners. It can be scary, especially now in the age of artificial intelligence, but that growth mindset is so important and it’s like, ‘OK, I don’t know yet’ – that’s still power.


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