3 Supporting teachers in the use of technology
The questionnaire that you used in Activity 1 will show that the teachers in your school have a variety of skills and experiences of using ICT, often called ‘digital literacy’. Your role is to encourage them to use this know-how to support their professional learning, and to understand how to use technology in their classrooms to support learning. It is helpful to divide the approaches needed to train teachers in ICT into four categories, listed below (adapted from Steketee, 2005):
- Developing key ICT skills: It is possible that some of your teachers need help with basic skills such as using a mouse, or opening and closing documents. Your challenge is to give them the confidence to see the use of ICT as something that will help them in their work.
- Using ICT to develop pedagogical skills: ICT in school can support some of the participatory approaches to learning promoted by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005). It can support moves from rote learning to acquiring higher-order skills such as problem-solving, questioning, organising, evaluating and generating knowledge (Latchem, 2010). ICT can also support inclusion (Central Institute of Educational Technology, 2013), ensuring that marginalised groups have access to materials and resources. Short videos and simulations can stimulate discussion; students can create their own presentations; students can collaborate with and communicate with students in other parts of the world. As they become experts, the relationship between teacher and student will become more democratic, and the students will develop their self-esteem. If you are deciding what technology to buy for your school, a major consideration will be to what extent the technology helps teachers to improve their teaching.
- Using ICT to support subject learning: ICT can be used to support specific areas of the curriculum. Recording devices can enrich language teaching, for example, and simulations can enrich the teaching of science. Access to the internet gives students the opportunity to undertake research of their own and learn about topics that interest them in depth. and students will further develop their self-esteem.
- Using ICT to support professional learning: ICT can be used to support teachers’ professional learning. You could encourage teachers to work together to find and adapt OERs for use in their classrooms. They could work in pairs to film each other in the classroom and then discuss the films with a view to improving their teaching. Teachers who have gaps in their subject knowledge will find a huge number of resources on the internet to help them, including quizzes, simulations and sample test papers with answers. Access to the internet will also provide them with the opportunity to communicate with other teachers through networks, and to develop the skills highlighted in the discussion after Activity 1.
Activity 4: Supporting teachers in the use of technology
Go back to the summary you made from the questionnaire in Activity 1 and the list of challenges you identified. In the light of the activities and case studies that you have read so far, how could you encourage your teachers to make better use of the technology available to them?
For each of the four categories given above, identify a specific example of an activity that you could undertake with a group of teachers in your school. The TESS-India teacher development OERs highlight opportunities to use ICT in the classroom and these might give you some ideas for using ICT to develop pedagogical skills or support subject learning.