Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Engineering Education & Teacher Preparation

The entire Intro to Teaching with Technology Tools course has been a great experience allowing teachers and administrators to help understand better use of technology in the classroom. In my opinion all teachers should have preparation in 21st century skills. Working in an institution of higher education, I would argue that this preparation is needed for professors as well. Outside of the School of Education, the value that is placed on "teaching" or encouraging student learning is lacking. In fact, when articulating my graduate school plans to my engineering department director, the response was "Once you know the content the teaching is insignificant? Why does that degree interest you?" It is not a surprise that this came from one of the most disliked professors in the school, but the comment speaks numbers to the perception of education preparation.

Through my experiences in this class it is clear that the needs of this generation of students are immense to be successful in the 21st century. As these academic and training needs increase, it requires educators to rethink learning environments, how education is being delivered, how it can be made personalized, and the resources that are available to encourage self learners.

Here is a very interesting talk I came across from the University Of Virginia:


One of the concerns that he expresses is the fear that the US will not be able to compete with nations like India and China because the engineering curriculum is preparing students for jobs 20 and 30 years ago as opposed to developing the skills students need in an industry that changes yearly. This is the type of vision and guidance that has to be established by top administrators within these schools to ensure that students are getting the skills they need to compete in industry. Mechanisms have be established within each engineering department to make sure there is a balance in fundamental and industrial concepts.


  1. Hi Mike,

    I agree with you that all teachers and I think administrators as well should be educated on 21st century learning skills. I would bargain to say that many teachers and administrators would not even be able to tell you what a 21st century skill is; I know that I wouldn't have been able to if it wasn't for this course. I certainly did not know how important these skills are for our students in today's classrooms. At this point, I would have to say that using the word "important" to describe 21st century skills is an understatement. I think many teachers are becoming aware of how much technology plays a role in their students' lives but some are still viewing technology as a tool that is used for personal reasons and there are little academic benefits for engaging with the technology. I don't think that all instructional theories of the past should be thrown completely out the window, but I think educators should be willing to find a balance between society's priorities of the past and the priorities of society's future.

  2. Wow! That is a very powerful video. There does seem to be a strong push to improve our STEM education overall--and this will be important to keep Americans competitive in the workplace. That is also a major concern behind the creation of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Having a balanced instructional approach which incorporates technology at an instructional level will hopefully foster the skills students need to be prepared for work. I think you are right that we need to rethink how education is carried out, but teacher preparation is a good first step!