Technology for teaching vs. teaching technology
I agree with you that this is a "learning" issue, not just an elearning issue. I am sure you have had the same experience with the debate of how much science a science teacher needs to know to teach science.
I think teachers are underappreciated as the assumption is that if you know a content area, you can "teach". In New York State, secondary school teachers need to have two master's degrees, one in their content area and the other in education.
What gets dicey is what should the education degree include and in New York state the degree includes courses on writing (across the curriculum), but not necessarily technology. In other words, should high school teachers be teaching technology per se or should they be integrating the use of technology within their classes so students get the practice of using technology in multiple contexts (as happens currently with writing?) In addition, many of the new graduates are armed with new pedagogies which might integrate technology into the curriculum, but the system of assessment and the pedagogical structures within the school make it impossible for these teachers to implement these new strategies into their teaching.
An alternative school, which my daughter may be attending in the Fall, integrates these new pedagogies. The fact that they had 15 times more applications for each teaching position than most schools demonstrates how teachers would LIKE to use a more updated pedagogy in their teaching, but are not allowed to due to the curriculum and organizational culture within many schools.
Preparing Teachers for the 21st Century
So back to your original question as to how to prepare teachers for the 21st century, I would propose the following:
- Teachers should learn technology and how it can be used (conceptual and pedagogical) as part of their education degree. This should include the same format that writing across the curriculum course include such as technology for science, technology for communication, technology for the humanities, etc...
- Teachers should understand the implications of the use of technology on learning
- Teachers should learn how to work with technology specialists in designing activities that will help to reinforce the theoretical principles learned in "technology class" (i.e. allowing for practice in multiple contexts so students understand the affordances of technology within a certain context)
- There should be a push to implement "technology classes" as part of the curriculum, just as there are "writing classes." These classes focus on the conceptual and skill building needed for the 21st century. Then other classes reinforce these concepts and skills in throughout the curriculum.
- There should be an effort to have "technology curriculum specialists" the same way there are "writing curriculum specialists" that teachers can use as a resource. In addition, teachers should be required to integrate technology use into their class (as is currently being done with writing) with a certain % of activities using APPROPRIATE technology for that discipline. For example, the use of a graphing calculator or SPSS software for a math course would be appropriate. Concept mapping or blogging would not be appropriate as it does not teach computing which is needed in the field of Math. On the other hand, the use of excel would not be appropriate for a Language Arts course, but a Ning would as a means of improving communication skills is central to most English Language Arts curriculums.