PRIORITIES FOR PROMOTING ICT USE IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN EUROPE

Users' needs - for Teachers and Teacher Educators

The Fetiche Project

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This paper draws from the experiences of the experiments of the Fetiche Socrates ODL project combined with the shared reflections of the six partners in the project. It addresses the priorities required of Teacher Education to ensure an understanding of the appropriate use, role and concepts of Information and Communication technologies (ICT). In all cases, we consider ICT within an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) environment. When we refer to teachers, we include teacher educators based in institutions as well as teachers in schools; we consider teacher education as a continuum, from the initial training extending to the life-long learning and professional development perspective.

 The paper, written in four sections, is a compilation of: the questions that need addressing;

 

observations on these questions based on the results of the five Fetiche national experiments, the 'common week' experiment, and the video-conference. Some observations are inevitably contradictory, reflecting the reality and complexity of the area; our subsequent recommendations.

 

From this we have derived the list of Priority Actions we recommend for implementation.

 

PRIORITY ACTIONS

 

1 Understanding the use, role and concepts of ICT must be seen as essential components of, and integrated into, the curriculum of teacher training and the curriculum of subjects in schools.

2 Global networking, access through fixed lines and a full technical infrastructure and mobility, is an essential pre-requisite for all schools and teacher education institutions.

3 Initial and inservice teacher education should be merged in order to promote though the communications features lifelong learning and lifelong professional development, which are essential features of using ICT in an open and distance frame.

4 All schools and teacher education institutions should have a pro-active policy and standing committee that is responsible for the development and production of material on its web sites.

 

 

1. TEACHERS BELIEFS AND THEIR NEEDS, PREFERENCES AND WISHES

1.1. How do the participating teachers feel about integrating ICT tools and techniques in the teaching of their own subjects?

Observations

 

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

1.1.1. Teachers, by themselves, experience for themselves learning something new in their own subject they would not have learnt without ICT;
1.1.2. Teachers, by themselves, experience learning in a different way - by doing and practising - e.g. collaborative learning.
1.2. What are the needs of the teacher as they see it themselves?

 

Observations 

Teachers feelings towards ICT are complicated by the student motivation they see through ICT - enthusiasm, curiosity, keen on learning new things, keen to learn a new instrument for teaching.

Failure to mastery the technology leads to fear of the technology.
ICT cannot be avoided - it is needed for motivating students, and keeping one's job.
It is socially acceptable to 'know 'ICT.
Teachers are unsure if they need ICT to improve pedagogy.
Teachers are aware that ICT is not just affecting their role and pedagogy, but creating the new.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

1.2.1. Teachers develop a curiosity for themselves to learning something new using ICT;
1.2.2. Teachers begin to use ICT as a personal tool from which they can explore for themselves the potential for pedagogy/didactics;
1.2.3. Teachers have available a range of materials with which to explore ICT use and understanding;
1.2.4. Teachers to conduct experiments and use materials already developed by others within education;
1.2.5. Teachers can draw upon appropriate levels of associated services to foster their explorations and learning.
1.3. Do teachers perceive that ICT may change the balance of the social group of learning between the class, the home and social life?

 

Observations 

The status and structure of a class is changing.
Before ICT it was more economic to have many pupils to one teacher.
Before ICT it was simpler to have pupils in the same place at the same time.
With ICT a class is not only a collection of individuals but a collaborative group.
With ICT other types of classes - distance classes, asynchronous classes - are possible.
Thus ICT can reduce a sense of distance, and fixed size and time, leading to the more inclusive sense of open learning.
ICT has an impact of all areas of learning within and beyond the fixed establishment, including libraries and resource areas.
ICT encourages the notion of "learning sites".
Distance has social as well as geographical (space and time) dimensions.
Open learning is a concept as important for teachers and teacher educators as for the pupils in a class.
ODL enables expansion with different styles of teaching.

  

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

1.3.1. Teachers explore and use all possibilities for local and distance teaching;
1.3.2. Teachers explore and use all possibilities for synchronous and asynchronous classes through ICT;
1.3.3. Teachers use and experiment with pedagogical projects;
1.3.4. Teachers explore and use the collaborative dimensions available with ICT;
1.3.5. Teachers should be prepared to conceive of schools and other locations as learning sites.
1.4. Do teachers believe that ICT may help them innovate and change the way systems, institutional at all levels, control the flow of information.

 

Observation

In the past, you could hide/ignore/ impose knowledge - now the Technology and Information is open to everyone.
ICT does not always mean that something is "new"; it can reinforce and support existing established and valuable systems.
Pupils, parents, the community, business and industry all can contribute different understandings of how systems respond with ICT.
Integration and fragmentation are two different tendencies associated with ICT.
Education has a particular strength which can draw upon this range and variety of influences, while developing its particular 'voice'.

 

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1.4.1. Teachers recognise and respect that information and understanding about ICT can be found from a range of ages, positions and environments;
1.4.2. Teachers consider the range of possible worlds and cultivate access to different expertise that can inform and influence perspectives at a class and institutional levels;
1.4.3. Teachers find ways of expressing mutual understanding through shared expertise;
1.4.4. Teachers actively promote discussions within institutions (schools,colleges and universities) on systems responses;
1.4.5. Teachers recognise the value of existing practices that should inform rather than be threatened by the use of ICT.

 

2. ICT, TEACHER EDUCATION AND THE TEACHING PROFESSION

2.1. What sort of ICT tools and techniques can be incorporated into the teaching of different school subjects ?

 

Observations

Many different ICT tools have been established but any one institution has access to only a few of these.
ICT is not only affecting existing school subjects but is helping create new subjects.
ICT enables the development of new competencies.
ICT is not simply about skills, but also conceptual understanding and development.
ICT tools such as the Web will not be used to their full potential until teacher expertise, student access and Web technology are further developed.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that: 

2.1.1. Although there are many ICT tools, the Web is one of the most effective ways for schools to compare experiences;
2.1.2. All educational establishments have access to network technology tom fulfil the potential;
2.1.3. One point, one network entry is simply not enough;
2.1.4. Educational materials and examples be developed to ensure that there is some content and purpose to the use of networks;
2.1.5. Experiences from teachers be published at all levels and in all media (not just through ICT) to inform those who are only starting to explore.
2.2. In teaching and learning, what is specific to distance teaching and learning in the teaching profession?

 

Observations

It is most important to define the meaning of open and distance learning and teaching.
Distance relates to a specific focus, while open has a plurality of forms.
The underlying significance of ODL is the change in access and style at different levels that it facilitates.
In most cases, the Web is a distance learning rather than distance teaching environment.
Video-conferencing can be used for both distance learning and teaching.
It is dangerous to put materials on the Web which have been produced at a different time and for different purposes, as it creates a false and simplistic perception of the Web that does not account for new models of information handling.
New materials are needed to support both the use but also the concepts embedded in ODL, that is the new relationships between humans, knowledge and learning.
The absence of a more intimate teacher-student or student-student relationship makes it essential that communications tools and techniques are well-designed.
New materials suggests new criteria need to be established for their development.
The sooner teachers start with ICT, even simplest forms like email, the sooner they can develop and extend a perspective on open and distance learning.
Converging platforms are facilities for networks.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

2.1.1. Careful attention be paid to the design and development of new tools and techniques, so they reflect the more intimate relations that ODL tools can stimulate;
2.1.2. Distance education is most effective when combined with on-site instruction;
2.1.3. Communication is much easier when users have met and opportunities for this should be included;
2.1.4. The minimum installation for ICT must be a fixed line for each school and institution;
2.1.5. It is recognised and understood that fragmentation as well as integration can be associated with new technologies and in particular the different platforms and structures.
2.3. How do you integrate pedagogy with ICT?

 

Observations

A full understanding of ICT is less important for teachers and teacher educators than are enthusiasm, a willingness to consider new methods, and an acceptance that it is not necessary to know everything.
ICT may change the role of the teacher, who may develop new pedagogical methods based on constructivist or problem-based approaches.
It is important to remember that some exciting new pedagogical/didactic methods have already been developed , in association with collabortative learning, before the advent of ICT.
The use of ICT can support and enhance exisiting good practice in education.
ICT creates a greater plurality of material development and learning evaluation within a pedagogic/didactic framework.
Exploration of the use of ICT heuristically by teachers will inevitably have an impact upon their pedagogical practices.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

2.3.1. Teachers must not just use ICT tools but also consider new concepts of learning;
2.3.2. Teachers must consider and reflect on evaluation methods and materials in the light of ICT use and practices;
2.3.3. Where national curricula exist, these should acknowledge the role of ICT in pedagogical practices;
2.3.4. Teachers discuss within their own subject the role of ICT in pedagogy.
2.4. How can teacher trainers experiment - what is the starter point /trigger point - the bootstrap?

 

Observations

Projects can form useful starting points for teacher educators.
During periods of rapid change, projects are often the only way change can be established and maintained.
Teachers have to try new methods even when they are without previous experience or practices.
teachers need as much support as possible through periods of trying out the 'new'.
A 'basic' understanding of ICT use is too simplistic and not enough; teachers need a profound and comprehensive understanding of the role, use and significance of ICT.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

2.4.1. A range of ICT Research and Development projects and experiments continues to be developed in teacher education;
2.4.2. All teacher educators must have a comprehensive understanding of the use of ICT within the pedagogy of their own subject.

 

3. THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS

3.1. What sort of communication features characterise the intra-group and inter-group exchange of ideas, views and opinions of the teachers?

 

Observations

There is an impact on verbal and non-verbal communication - which involves extra-lingual communication.
Multi-dimensional features of normal communication change radically with using ICT.
There is a change in the rhythm and tempo of communiactions through IC.
ICT demands a modification of individuals style of speaking and listening.
The influence of body language and expression is either lost or severely restricted with ICT.
Written language changes with ICT, becoming less formal, more colloquial, tighter and in some cases developing a new style of its own.
Communication with ICT may not always involve full interaction which is associated with real/live conversation and discussion.
Communication through ICT demands a conscious and deliberate taking into account the others involved.
As well as structural and linguistic changes, spontaneity is involved, either positively or negatively, depending on the medium and how it is managed.
Features vary form tool to tool and technique to technique.
The change into the perceptions and reality of communications are complex and barely yet understood.
Video-conferencing is clearly motivating and stimulates response, but it presents a 'flattened', more unidimensional form of communication, whose feature need to be more fully understood.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

3.1.1. Many more experiments are needed to explore and probe the more complex affects upon communications to tease out relative advantages and be aware of the constrictions;
3.1.2. Attention is paid to discovering more about the management and planning aspects of communications through ICT. 
3.2. Are there changes which enhance the European Dimension in teachers' initial and inservice teacher education?

 

Observations

It is clear that the role of language teaching and exchange offers a particular European dimension that needs to be harnessed.
The platform for language teaching and exchange across boundaries is the clearest area of enthusiasm within teachers for further collaboration.
The potential for a more Pan-European dimension to teaching through this medium has barely been esxplored , but this potential been at the forefront of all teachers perception, including those who are still naive users of the technology.
Materials need to be developed which put flesh onto the pedagogic potential across languages.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

3.2.1. A priority be given to the development of language teaching across the European languages;
3.2.2. An infrastrure for such cross fertilisation, with its effects upon material development and pedagogy/didactics, be given priority.
3.3. Are there changes in communication between trainers, teachers and students, and a change of relationships and perceptions?

 

Observations

Electronic communication is fringe technology compared with static paper based knowledge.
Communication does not necessarily take traditional teaching institutions into account as a primary source of knowledge.
ICT have an impact on hierarchical constraints on relationships; they have a different effect, rather than a reduced one.
Email may do away with vertical hierarchies; but video conferencing may introduce new ones.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

3.3.1. Initial and inservice teacher education be merged as quickly as possible in order to promote lifelong learning and lifelong professional development, which are essential features of using IC in an open and distance frame;
3.3.2. All teachers and teacher educators are involved, so all will need to re-evaluate and renovate their perception of their role and job;
3.3.3. Structures are established in institutions to debate and provide an ongoing platform for discussions on the impact on teaching practices through changes in communication features.
3.4. How can new users be encouraged to connect themselves regularly and implement change in practice; not 'how to buy modems' , but 'how to facilitate new users to use'.

 

Observations

There are conditions for change that are necessary, but these are not sufficient in themselves for change to take place.
Stimulus, opportunity, familiarisation and motivation are universal key components.
Availability and access of the equipment is critical.
Transparency of the software and IC applications is helpful.
Appropriate support and resource people are essential.
Traditional modes of communication are broadened through different modes of interaction, communication and dialogue.
It must be recognised that it takes a long time for Web conferencing to build up and develop before true interaction occurs.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

3.4.1. Access to and the availability of full connectivity to the Web is a basic requirement;
3.4.2. Automated telephone services should become the norm in schools;
3.4.3. Resource people are always available within education establishments;
3.4.4. Attention be paid to establishing the necessary infrastructures to support new users;
3.4.5. Attention must be paid to providing more appropriate multimedia materials, and ensuring their availability, than at present.
3.4.6. A determined effort is made to overcome the fragmentation of services and support that exists currently in education;
3.4.7. An integrated connection between schools and educational establishment should be planned for the future.

 

4. SOCIETAL FEATURES

4.1. What influence does ICT have on societal aspects of schools as learning organisations?

 

Observations

ICT provision in a school can equalise or exaggerate inequalities of society.
ICT can help all learners achieve their full potential but it does not necessarily narrow the gap between the achievements of different learners.
ICT is not simply affecting education, but many aspects of life and work within the community.
The way communication technologies are being developed and presented in education are very much bound up with economic imperatives and constraints.
Group dynamics among users, especially those that have not met before and maybe from diverse perspectives, can change and become a positive and innovative grouping.
ICT may act as a springboard for new groupings that form without the constraints of previous sections of society.
Teachers can build upon the potential of these new constellations.
ICT can act as a change agent for the nature and style of groupings among users.
ICT can act as a new platform to stimulate the collection of individuals into groupings that would not have hitherto been considered.
There are substantial concerns that economic and business factors will inhibit the plurality of use and time availability of systems.
The profit motive of telecommunications companies can damage the very communications they are meant to facilitate; educational establishments will be a particular section of society particular who will suffer from such pricing policies.

  

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

4.1.1. All teachers and teacher educators should establish links between society, community and the classroom;
4.1.2. All teachers should take the necessary steps to implement action following the establishment of these links;
4.1.3. Teachers recognise the potential for new of groups from hitherto diverse styles and sections of society;
4.1.4. Teachers embrace the potential for breaking down existing cultural and community barriers;
4.1.5. Teachers be aware of the positive and negative dimensions which can influence the groupings using ICT.
4.2. What related ethical issues and other problems come with the management of ICT

 

Observations

Copyright issues must be considered and respected.
There are questions of control, both open and closed issues, that need both further debate and more universal recognition.
Web pages and their material reflect both the good and bad that are available generally in the world.
Teachers need to recognise the problems and ensure that a pedagogically sound interpretation is made of this plurality of material.
There can be a balance but also imbalance of information provision on the Web.
There is a need for a discussion on setting limits on Web access within educational environments.
There is a need to respect the privacy of students using email.
Careful thought must be given to the use of photos and names on Web site.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

4.2.1. All schools should have a pro-active policy and standing committee that is responsible for the development and production of material on its web sites;
4.2.2. There is a pedagogical solution to material access on the Web;
4.2.3. Institutions that host Web sites are responsible for validating their content;
4.2.4. Teachers should encourage through partnerships the increase rather than constraint upon communications.
4.3. How much does ICT break down traditional barriers?

 

Observations

ICT plays a complimentary role to normal and everyday situations.
Email has done much to break down artificial barriers.
Information overload and an absence of substantial reflection on the information available is in danger of creating a false understanding of the complexities and potential of the medium.
Education has a role to play in the development of a critical understanding of information handling, interfaces and search engines.
Education can inform business and industry as part of the partnerships which will be developed.
ICT removes specific time constraints and divisions, e.g. in to work and leisure.
Blurring of time constraints can have both a positive but also negative impact on life, and especially work pressures.
For the young the culture of the multimedia is the culture of video-games; no-one has yet respected or capitalised enough on this. The culture of adults is different, yet the culture of the adults of the future is being defined by this interest and natural affinity with the operation and cognitive concepts associated with video games.
Not enough attention has been paid into this aspect of the perceptions of the young. Attempts should be made to find a natural marriage between this inter and the attempts to use ICT within teacher education.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

4.3.1. ICT should be seen to tale complimentary role in normal everyday situations in education;
4.3.2. Teachers and institutions should guar against promoting a perception that information by itself is the goal, rather than its handling and use;
4.3.3. Teachers must play a decisive role in the development of a critical understanding of information handling, interfaces and search engines;
4.4.4. teachers must play a decisive role in the debate about changing work and leisure practices though the use of ICT.
4.4.5. Teachers and educational institutions must though new partnerships ensure they inform business and the commercial producers of their specific needs;
4.4.6. Teachers must recognise the new perceptions that the young already have about multimedia, and work with the young to incorporate these perceptions into the mainstream activities of the curriculum and pedagogy