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*Two Views on Improving Professional Development for Teachers
*A growing presence in the boy's club -- Women on the net

Bonnie Laverne Bracey

Date: 98-07-16  

While doing outreach for the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council and the White House Technology Initiative, Cyber Ed, I have been privileged to travel America delivering the vision of technology to teachers, administrators , and community groups. One observation I would like to share is the paucity of women in technology at various levels. I have started to think about the why of this.  


It is my observation that men are in many of the visible technology jobs, the tech coordinators, and planning, and that often they do not talk to the teachers they serve. They do not seem to always make the teacher's knowledge a part of the reason for the use of technology. There is merit in making the teachers feel ownership in the program. What I mean is, they do the teaching and there is little feedback or involved interchange. They seem to know , or to believe that they really know how to tell teachers how to use technology. Rudimentary things. So teachers close them up and out.   STARS Most of the stars.. The wonderful speakers we find on the circuit are also men. Many of these men are my friends, Ian Jukes, Larry Riving,Chris Dude, David Thornburg, Sol Rockman, and and there are others, I would not give up their friendship and the wisdom, experience, ideas they shared,imparted for anything. But conference after conference, is mostly men. Why is that?  


A special support I had was that of the George Lucas Foundation. I had the special priviledge of being able to be a part of the Foundation's technology Initiative as an advisory member. I had the friendship of Patty Burness. During the dark days, I had that appointment as an amulet and a talisman to help me when things went bump in the dark, and people attacked me for using technology ( Learn and Live. )I returned from one of the meetings to find my technology, teaching supplies and materials in a mountainous pile with a transfer to another room, but I could smile, I knew that I was too far ahead.. and so I did it with a smile. I moved and I persevered. What do others do? I had a national appointment to cushion me.   *As a Christa McAuliffe Educator, I had the NEA and its resources, and funding to learn. I had David Wallace to help me find powerful pedagogical models.   *As a project participant, I had NASA , National Geographic, Earthwatch, and other software companies let me learn. Who supports the regular classroom teacher?   As a member of the NII, I had the attention of powerful people. What I did and what I said mattered to them. I had clout.   What support do pioneers have? Do even their families understand?


Teachers need find real classroom pioneers who have stories to tell too, like Marilyn Schlief, Gail Morse, Misty Brave, Carmen Gonzales, and Kathy Schrock.. It is important to have their campfire stories recorded and told, and Gwen Solomon helps with the Well Connected Educator to keep the stories. Campfire stories should also be in a book for those who aren't even remotely connected.Then they can catch the heat , and warmth of the sagas of the pioneers.   When I look around at powerful women I find that references to their work are few and far between. Kathleen Fulton, Laurie Maak, Leni Donlan, Esther Dyson, Linda Roberts,Lynn Forester, Susan Herman, Gail Lovely ,are friends and people who are visible but where are the women, the rest of them on the lecture circuit, doing the demonstrations of technology? We certainly are majority of the teachers in America. But women do more than teach and women can use technology .   It cannot be a given that we who teach cannot do the technology. I believe there is a reason that there are fewer women in technology but, I do not know all of the answers. Nora Sabelli of the NSF/OSTP thinks that we need to pass along the pedagogy. It is my concern that pedagogy is the last thing taught, and that models of teaching and learning are not taught, but how to use the computer and how to use software sometimes of dubious choice.


I like the NFIE project which probed teachers about their learning <>."To improve schools we must focus on the teachers," said Judith Rènyi, executive director of the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, (NFIE) in releasing this report . Teachers Take Charge of Their Learning "Schools can only be as good as the teachers in them. This is something that all other so-called 'reform efforts' have missed. It's what teachers know and can do that will make the difference in improved student performance."   That organization is also under the leadership of a capable woman. When I am on the road, I learn that most teachers have little or no knowledge of the documents, and kinds of support they can get. People keep giving us lesson plans, and more websites, but what we need is applications of pedagogy. These should be delivered up close and personal. A website to a techno-terrifed teacher is of NO significance.The website can be a wonderful link after teachers have developed a vision for driving technology into their personal school tool armature.   If we look at the way in which people are attracted to technology, there are several routes, courses, games, mentoring, and use at school that entice people to use technology. Most of these are male oriented. I won't even mention the macho of most computer stores.   They know you want a computer.. and they still are mixed in response with hoddy customer service. It is a trip to go

  1. To buy a computer, is an ordeal. If the seller can, they will guide you to their choice even if you tell them what environment you are working in, they don't understand the educational world. They talk down to teachers and most importantly, do not seem to know anything about the educational buys. That is another hour in the store if they will acknowledge the process.   Even if you do your research on the internet , talking about an educational buy in the store causes one more hour of waiting that is about the bundling. The long and lonely pursuit of a computer p urchase is not a wonderful experience for the novice .
  2. So you have the computer. The pursuit of peripherals is another journey.Cameras, scanners, CUSEE ME who wrote the directions for that stuff. Arrrgh. Heck, just finding out where to get the darn batteries for the laptop of your choice is mildly interesting . The store that so quickly accepted your money, seems to be deaf. Batteries? What those? Huh?Send for them on the internet. Why?
  3. The computer stores ought to give out a free coupon, to any of or some of the computer magazines,and resources.They could learn from the makeup counters...I guess they feel you gotta come to them so they are usually rude and distant. Only men would stand in line forever.IF the marketing genius of the Makeup Fashion industry had a Computer salon they would take a use profile. They would use the computer in some way while they talked to you and give you a print out.. There would be a special person you could call. As new merchandise came in , they would give you a call and offer to demonstrate it to you. A few pictures, some concrete examples. Really. And a bag full of sample disks, and coupons.


"Wired" Recently AOL statistics showed an increase of women on the net.   According to Adam Clayton Powell III/World Center statistics show that the net was predominantly white and male just two years ago, the Internet is now used by men and women almost equally, and the racial composition of Web users now mirrors almost exactly the general population of the United States.   Those are among findings of a new survey by the Harris Survey Unit of Baruch College published in an article by David Birdsell, an associate professor at Baruch, and three colleagues in the April/May issue of The Public Perspective, using data collected last winter.   The Web has grown from 13 million U.S. adult users in the fall of 1995 to more than 58 million adults this winter, which means 30% of U.S. adults are now online.   The biggest changes were in the sex and race demographics of those online: Men outnumbered women by more than 3:1 in September 1995, but last winter 44% of active Web users were women.   The racial composition of U.S. Web users by last winter was 75% white and 19% African-American and Latino, which Birdsell's article described as "statistically indistinguishable from Census data for the general population."So there are some changes but I am talking about the technology from producer , to distanceeducator, to project director to webmaster, to content specialist to the consumer.

How Many Teachers Use Technology?

A recent ETLS survey shows these points...Connecting Teachers and Technology  

Research shows that helping teachers learn how to integrate technology into the curriculum is a critical factor for the successful implementation of technology applications in schools. Most teachers have not had the education or training to use technology effectively in their teaching. Only 15 percent of U.S. teachers reported having at least nine hours of training in education technology in 1994. "   ( It is also a sad fact that most of the teachers taking these courses are not getting courses that really help them with what they want to do. Using technology is a series of steps, and learnings that transform people's individual teaching styles. That is not usually what the courses are made of. The courses are usually techniques for the use of technology.)   " In 18 states, teacher education students do not need courses in educational technology to obtain a teaching license. Only 16 percent of teachers currently use telecommunications for professional development. Research on the adoption of innovations in schools consistently points to the key role of administrators in successful implementation. "   ( The variable of acceptance of administrators depends on their understanding of the technology, what a learner should look like as they learn, and what the test scores should be. Administrators are even less likely to understand the pedagogy which involves instructional technology because of their lack of experience with it or accountable research that makes them feel comfortable with a pioneering teacher. Many administrators, gladly accept Title One or other government projects but do not accept project based learning or use of integrated use of the internet in technology as a part of the learning landscape.)   "Effective staff development for teachers should take advantage of telecommunications technologies that allow teachers to interact with each other, take online courses, and easily access the latest research in their discipline.

It is also interesting that many technology gifted people cannot understand the job of the classroom teacher. I believe it is because , they know technology well but the pedagogy is lacking. The experience in the classroom is taken lightly. There are skilled teacher workers who know the roadmap to create a learning landscape.     A recent report from NCATE shared these observations on teaching in America. Getting America's Students Ready for the 21st.   "Despite the technology changes in society, being a teacher in American schools too often consists of helping children and youth acquire information from textbooks and acting as an additional source of expertise. Teachers are provided role models of this approach to teaching from kindergarten through graduate school; their teacher education courses provide hints for making textbook-oriented instruction interesting and productive, and as teaching interns, they both observe and practice instruction based upon mastering information found in books."   "Teachers may be forgiven if they cling to old models of teaching that have served them well in the past. All of their formal instruction and role models were driven by traditional teaching practices. Breaking away from traditional approaches to instruction means taking risks and venturing into the unknown. But this is precisely what is needed at the present time."   How must teachers adapt to take advantage of technology for instruction?   New Understandings   Teachers need to understand the deep impact technology is having on society as a whole: how technology has changed the nature of work, of communications, and our understanding of the development of knowledge.  

New Approaches

Today, teachers must recognize that information is available from sources that go well beyond textbooks and teachers - mass media, communities, etc. and help students understand and make use of the many ways in which they can gain access to information. Teachers must employ a wide range of technological tools and software as part of their own instructional repertoire.   PD? Is it often a joke? Workshop?Please NOOOOOO!   There are other problems. Who instructs the teachers who are already in the classrooms? I could make you laugh and cry when we talk about learning to use technology. I believe that there are in school systems, men and women teaching teachers to use technology. I believe the point here is the problem of whether they are teaching technology, or using pedagogy to help teachers learn to integrate it into their practice. Techhead vs Egghead? I dunno. I like flashy fun stuff, but I want results and evaluations. So do parents.

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