Doing a bit of reading of the literature. As preparation for the redevelopment of a 3rd year course helping pre-service teachers figure out how ICTs can be integrated into/transform their learning and teaching.
This is a summary of Underwood and Dillon (2011). The abstract is
The teaching profession’s response to the inexorable march of new technology into education has been a focus of research for some 30 years. Linked with the impact of ICT on measurable performance outcomes, teacher attitudes to technology and the impact on pedagogic practice have been central to that research, a research that has often seen teachers as a barrier, not a force for change. The current article brings together findings from a decade of studies that have explored the ways in which teaching staff have responded to the growing notion that ICT is a core part of the teaching toolkit. In doing so we question the simplistic stereotyping of Luddite teachers. Drawing on findings from rare, but crucially important, longitudinal projects the article discusses hopes and fears raised by teaching staff when confronted with changes to existing pedagogy, before moving on to explore issues such as the ‘technology dip’, how maturity modelling can inform our understanding of technological change in schools and ways forward for helping teaching staff to embed technology into their teaching. The article concludes with a discussion of why it is important that the educational system meets this challenge from a learner’s perspective
The paper gives some insights into lines of research in this field, though I’m not sure whether the paper actually delivers anything earth-shaking.
Are teachers the problem or the solution?
Starts with a quote from Aviram and Talmi (2004) that argues for the inevitability of an ICT revolution arising mostly out of the “omnipresence of ICT in our everyday lives”. Then proceeds with references suggesting it isn’t so inevitable
- Research showing most people don’t use advanced features of technologies (e.g. mobile phones) which may explain lack of readiness to use m-learning despite heavy use of mobiles.
- Technologies “often fits uncomfortably with teachers’ professional judgements”.
- Technologies that move teachers outside their comfort zone have slower take up and higher rejection rates (Watson 2001).
- Jamieson-Proctor et al (2006) note that teachers want to enhance the current curriculum rather than transform with ICT, a reluctance to go beyond familiar practices. Arguing teaching is a conservative profession resistant to change. Which leads to the conclusion that positive impacts are more likely when based on existing pedagogical practice. With the example of the IWB given – though some mention of teacher unease around this
Comment: This is human nature 101. People are pattern matching intelligences. Anything that goes outside their established patterns doesn’t really register. It gets transformed into what they know or ignored. Changing this is difficult, but then that is the nature of learning. Learning anything knew is difficult. Which is one reason why I think an ICTs course for pre-service teachers has to try and engage pre-service teachers in the use of ICTs in new and interesting ways and challenge them to re-think their “existing pedagogical practice” AND show them how ICTs can be used to support their existing practice.
Underwood and Dillon (2011) continue with the idea that it is more than professional practice. The idea that the type of people go into teaching is a factor. “If teachers, as a group, are inherently low technology users compared to the general population, does this mean there is a natural resistance to the embedding of technology into the educational processes and practices?” Limited references to support this view and then they suggest there is evidence that the profession actually more constructive than this, if a little cautious.
Comment: If “teacher as a group” are prone to low technology use, what might this say about teacher educators?
Three ways forward
- A minimum emphasis on technology – a laissez-faire approach.
Argued this is not an acceptable alternative as it leads to a digital underclass.
- Bend the technology to the system.
Argues that there are some benefits, but also leads to an impoverished world in digital terms.
- Merge and evolve.
So we need a merger of technology and education and then an evolution. An evolution that requires a skilled teaching work force.
The first two “options” tend to remind me of Cnut the Great (King Canute). But even the 3rd option suggests to me Cnut the Great. As if the education system will have ability to pick and choose what is merged. Who in the education system makes this decision? Is it the government (which level?), the principals and school leadership, or teachers? How do these folk propose to stop students using ICTs anyway they wish? How do principals/school leadership propose to stop teachers using the ICTs they have in their pocket to teach better? (and so on up the chain). The evolution will happen, the question of anyone being able to control it is much more open.
The Technology Dip
Suggesting that change is not linear, but arises from a set of complex, interacting influences. Change takes a long time and the “grammar of school” is a barrier. p. 321
“To truly embed change we have to unveil the hidden mechanisms that rule school first”
Argues that there is a “technology dip” an “unequivocal confirmation of the existence of, and recovery from, the ‘technology dip’”. From Somekh et al (2004) – school performance on national tests dipped in the years following the introduction of resources into the Test Bed schools. But research shows that there are swift and strong recoveries post dip.
Comment: The graphs demonstrating this seem somewhat light on with data about the statistics. There is the question whether national tests are a good measure.
Talks a bit about the assimilation of technology into the grammar of school, but that this uninspiring use of ICTs can often hide more interesting changes.
Mentions Crook et al (2010) in-depth case studies of 85 teachers. Finding that ICT largely used to support expository, construction and search activities.
There’s a bit of talk about VLEs and maturity models. The purpose wasn’t obvious.
Comes back to this
A consensus that emerges from much of the research on teacher responses to technology is that perceived usefulness is the most influential predictor of satisfaction and intention to continue e-learning usage.
with a range of research supporting it.
Ends with identifying the need to bridge the gap between current concepts of learning/schooling and the need for flexible thinkers and “debatable citizens” (a strange term).
Underwood, J., & Dillon, G. (2011). Chasing dreams and recognising realities: teachers’ responses to ICT. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(3), 317–330. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2011.610932