Implementation of a laptop initiative: preservice foreign language teachers and factors influencing their computer use
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Influenced by the development of state and national technology standards as well as the increased availability of computers in school settings, the expectations for educators to use computer technology has become a part of preparing future K-12 teachers. In the efforts to better prepare and meet these demands to prepare technologically savvy future teachers, one large university in the southwest implemented a laptop requirement for their teacher preparation program in the fall of 2002. This qualitative case study, conducted at the beginning of the third year of this program, focuses on the experiences of a cohort of 7 foreign language preservice teachers participating in this requirement and serves as benchmark for gauging the success of the program. Through interviews, questionnaires, and observations, the study explores their experiences as end-users and depicts how the requirement was developed, adopted, and implemented. Successful implementation of a technological innovation is influenced by several conditions; dissatisfaction with the status quo, existence of knowledge and skills, availability of resources, availability of time, rewards or incentives, participation, commitment, and leadership (Ely, 1990, 1999). By using these conditions as a framework and inventory for analysis, the findings discuss the perspectives of the administration, the faculty, and the students who are all involved in the implementation process in different ways. The foreign language preservice teachers’ computer use during their student teaching semester influenced by the computer skills and knowledge they acquired as a result of the laptop requirement and by the exposure to models provided by their professors in the university setting, models from their cooperating teachers, and the access and availability of computer resources in the schools where they did their practicum. The findings support previous research on computer use by preservice teachers, as they must be placed in technology-rich environments in order to connect their technological training with sound pedagogical practices in an authentic setting. Recommendations for improvement of the program, pedagogical implications, and suggestions for further research are also discussed.