Teacher Development:
Focus on Technology (1996-1999)

The Teacher Development project was designed specifically to provide technology training to address the concerns of language teachers. During each year of the project, groups of students in the Second Languages and Cultures Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program at the University of Minnesota, participated in a course together with several of their cooperating teachers from the local area. Together these teachers shared new and experienced teacher viewpoints on the application of technology to language teaching and learning.

The teachers focused on the use of audio, video, computer software and the Internet for developing language skills, incorporating authentic language and enhancing interaction in the second language classroom. Teachers examined two approaches for the use of technology: classroom (large-group) and independent learning. The goal of the program was to help all of the teachers learn to use the tools, evaluate the materials critically, and select and use the technologies wisely.

Course Model

The cohort of teachers was divided into 2 sections which attended class in alternate weeks, giving each cohort 3 class meetings and one hands-on session per instructional quarter. During the first and second weeks of the quarter, each cohort received instruction about and demonstration of a particular type of technology and examples of how it may be integrated meaningfully into a language teaching curriculum. During weeks 3 and 4, the cohorts had hands-on activities to complete that allowed them to gain experience with the particular technology. This time frame also allows the participants time to try out what they were learning with the students and teachers in their placements or classes, if available. Week 5 had a class session that expanded on the term's technology topic; then during weeks 6 through 8, students tried out what they were learning in their full-time placements. The last two weeks of each quarter revolved around participant presentation and discussion of projects/ideas for the integration of the technology in language teaching and learning.

>> View an archived class syllabus - includes the syllabus, rubrics, online "handouts" and directions for activities the students were assigned.


An initial evaluation of the program indicated that the topics were fairly comprehensive, though there were some changes made in the course over the three years. Project staff found that while this course model was advantageous in linking preservice with inservice teachers over a period of time during which teachers could use and practice new skills, the expanded class timeframe lessened the connection between the instructors and the course participants.

Participants reported that they were excited about using these technologies and seeing uses for them in the classroom, but they were also frustrated at the lack of resources in their schools, which prevented them from implementing some of the ideas presented in this course in their classroom. The participants preferred hands-on practice with the technologies (so they were personally more comfortable with the particular technology) and pre-defined student activities that they could use "tomorrow", versus spending time in reflection or discussion on theoretical underpinnings or creating materials

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