Date of Award
Master of Science
Plant and Soil Science
The COVID-19 Pandemic forced educators to move course delivery to online learning with little or no training or preparation. Teachers' virtual instruction preparedness, pre-service teachers, and school districts are still lacking, despite technology goals instituted by the Board of Education. One of the immediate concerns of the online course delivery was school districts' capabilities for virtual instruction regarding infrastructure and resources. Funding, lack of equipment, and resources to maintain hardware and training prove to be common obstacles schools and staff face. Another concern was SBAE teachers’ readiness to use the online learning tools available to school districts. Teacher pedagogy, knowledge, skills, and confidence prevent teachers and pre-service teachers from exploring and utilizing technology in their classrooms. Additionally, moving all students to online learning environments presented a challenge for those teachers who knew little about educational technology tools or other online resources. This study aims to assess if SBAEs in Illinois are adequately prepared to use technology as the sole source of instruction for virtual learning and whether Illinois schools are capable of virtual instruction. To meet both the educational needs of the current generation of learners and are meeting educational standards set by the Illinois State Board of Education requirements, even in a virtual learning environment. As well as determine what gaps may be present in SBAE teacher education programs concerning the preparation of student teachers to utilize classroom technology to teach virtually. Some skill gaps identified include utilizing the flipped classroom approach, incorporating mobile applications into lessons, and utilizing virtual instruction for student collaboration and assessment. Most teachers indicated they felt somewhat prepared for virtual instruction and moderately prepared to incorporate technology into their lessons through teacher education programs, school districts, and professional organizations. Recommendations included future in-service training for SBAE teachers regarding using educational technologies and virtual learning platforms. Also, training for SBAE teachers on synchronous online learning platforms and the use of 1:1 technology is warranted. Pre-service programs are recommended to include coursework on educational technologies and virtual instruction. Faculty in preparation programs for SBAE teachers are encouraged to adapt curricula to support these skills and promote pre-service teachers practicing the utilization of virtual instruction in authentic classroom settings.
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