Learning about Urban Ecology Through the use of Visualization and Geospatial Technologies
During the past three years we have been designing and implementing a technology enhanced urban ecology program using geographic information systems (GIS) coupled with technology. Our initial work focused on professional development for in-service teachers and implementation in K-12 classrooms. However, upon reflection and analysis of the challenges that our in-service teachers faced while implementing our projects in their classrooms, we began to infuse our National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded ITEST work into our pre-service teacher preparation program. The primary reason for this integration was to better prepare new teachers to use emerging technologies in the classroom and to increase their comfort level with “doing science” through the use of technology. In this paper we report on the successes and challenges of integrating our ITEST projects into one particular pre-service teacher education course designed for students from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. We found that as students’ understanding of the content improved, so did their understanding of technology’s role in “doing science,” and their belief that they can use technology in their own teaching. We also found that the technology, although useful for helping students ask rather robust research questions, appeared to impede a more sophisticated understanding of the complete scientific process.
This article is part of a special issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE).