International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, Valencia, İspanya, 11 - 14 Haziran 2009, ss.686-695
The rapid development of information technology has made computers and computer-related technology an integral part of teaching and learning in the last decades. However, despite the positive effects of technology use on student motivation, self-direction, sense of accomplishment and critical thinking skills (Van Scoter, Ellis & Railsback, 2001), recent research has shown that the integration of technology is still in its beginning stages and that it has not yet been fully acknowledged and accepted by teachers (Herman, 2002). The present study aims to investigate the effects of a technology based training combined with course work on the attitudes and perceptions of 38 Turkish prospective teachers (PTs) of English in Turkey. The 10-week study took place in the second term of 2007-2008 academic year in the “Teaching English to Young Learners I” course. The course aims at providing PTs with theoretical knowledge on young learners’ cognitive development and their characteristics as well as with practical skills in teaching speaking and listening to young learners. Prior to the study, the participating PTs were given brief information on the study and asked to work on a technology-integrated project. That is, they were supposed to develop a material to be used in their future English classes as their term projects, taking young learners characteristics into account and using online resources for an interactive class. In order to develop their practical skills in the integration of computer applications and online resources for material development, PTs were provided with a 4-hour training given by one of the researchers. The training included theoretical issues related to educational technology as well as information on online resources and was given through three weeks.
Following the training, PTs prepared a 15- 20-minute lesson plan consulting the websites introduced or they themselves found. They were free to work on any topic, e.g., teaching numbers, colors, or any skill, e.g., listening to a song and matching pictures with words. During this process, they contacted the researchers regularly for their questions. Finally, in the last four weeks of the term, PTs presented their materials and received feedback both from their classmates and instructors on the content of their presentation, the materials they developed, the way they integrated technology into their instruction, and the suitability of their lesson plan to the needs of young learners. Data were collected by means the Information and Communication Technologies attitudes and perceptions scale (Albirini, 2004) given before and after the four-hour training.
The findings revealed significant differences in PTs’ attitudes towards computer use in language teaching as well as in their computer competence. The study also revealed that many PTs did not know much about online resources and had difficulties in finding the most suitable ones. Moreover, many felt a mismatch between ICT and the curricula and the class-time frame. It follows that providing pre-service teachers with basic technological computer skills and placing computers in schools are not enough for attaining educational change. Teachers’ preparation necessitates aiding teachers in experimenting with ICT before being able to use it in their classrooms.