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Instructor technology training

Universities differed in the level of technology training provided to instructors. Most of the instructors had received training in their campus-wide course management system, but they did not always get to practice their new skills within the training session. According to Miller, she had not been given time to practice with Blackboard at the training session. She would have liked to work with her own “real” course materials, and have a head-start to setting up the rest of the course on her own. The literature on cognitive information processing corroborates Miller’s instincts that both rehearsal and working with real materials have been very reinforcing to learners of technology. As information is processed into long-term memory, the learner combines the new information with prior knowledge ( Atkinson&Shiffrin, 1971 ). Any sensory cues that aid this process help anchor the information, therefore using one’s own course materials would fill this function very well. This fits with Ausubel’s meaningful learning theory (1963) which listed three essential conditions: the learner must use a meaningful learning set; the material to be learned must be potentially meaningful; and what the learner already knows and how it relates to what is to be learned. The last item provides the cognitive structure for linking new ideas, which Ausubel referred to as anchoring ideas .

The short training sessions did not allow Miller time to practice the new skills to absorb what she had been shown. There was not have time to make mistakes, get help, and try again. Miller described her experience:

Your institution offers professional development training and things like Smart Board and Blackboard, and I’ve sat through a few of those for those two-hour long courses and gotten excited about it and then really had trouble in the application phase, when you come and try to get to use it. I have not really put the time or the energy into doing that.

Nancy’s situation was very similar to Miller’s. Although she used Blackboard for the theories course, besides posting her syllabus, she only used it to post a couple of announcements. Learning to incorporate constructivism in her online pedagogy was a challenge for Nancy. She lacked the time to learn the technology, due to her full teaching load in addition to her involvement in professional societies at the leadership level.

Pedagogy

Several of the instructors had not developed pedagogy that integrated technology. None of them mentioned being introduced to technology by their university instructors. Although e-learning was in use in the late 1980s, the instructors who finished their doctorates ten or more years ago did not have classrooms with the computer technology that is widespread today, such as podiums designed for laptops, classroom Internet connections, or computer projectors.

E-learning is a relatively new phenomenon. Personal computers did not come into use until the late 1970s. Yan, et al. (2003) described e-learning as “a learning system that uses various electronic techniques as its primary medium for learning.” According to Alonzo, et al. (2005), e-learning is basically an alternative way to teach and learn that has not yet incorporated the pedagogical principles of teaching. Govindasamy (2002) found that software tools for e-learning over the Internet were found not to extend to pedagogy; therefore, the pedagogical manner for teaching with these tools was left to the instructors.

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Source:  OpenStax, Faculty use of courseware to teach counseling theories. OpenStax CNX. Oct 14, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11130/1.1
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