In Brief

Advances in instructional technology have the potential to bolster teaching and learning, yet many schools are not taking advantage of these advances due to inadequate knowledge and technology training, studies have shown. To address this gap, Temple University educational psychologists held a two-day statewide conference in February to bring together about 70 Pennsylvanian instructional technology (IT) faculty members and K-12 teachers and administrators.

The conference, held at Temple, aimed to familiarize educators with what IT specialists do and how they can help teachers use technology in their classrooms to improve student learning. The conference was hosted by Temple's Instructional and Learning Technology (ILT) program and MAR•TEC (the Mid-Atlantic Region Technology in Education Consortium) and organized by Temple University professors Susan Miller, PhD, Glenn Snelbecker, PhD, and Robert Zheng, EdD.

Miller, the ILT program coordinator, says the conference sparked collaboration among the participants, many of whom committed to work together across institutions to better understand IT specialists' roles, promote the use of technology in K-12 schools and study how teachers can use technology more effectively. Furthermore, Miller says, the conference gave participants a chance to brainstorm ways to better train students in IT programs to meet teachers' needs and ensure IT programs meet state standards for program certification.

IT specialists draw from psychology, education and technology to understand the strengths and limitations of computer tutorials and other educational technology.

For example, many teachers encourage students to use the Internet merely as a search engine to gather information rather than having them think critically about what they find. Solutions may lie in such Internet-based programs as WebQuest--which allows students to work collaboratively on problem-solving tasks and judiciously cull information from Web sites.

Conference organizers believe this is the first statewide conference to bring educators together to talk about preparation and certification of instructional technology specialists, and they hope it will spark future meetings.