Organisational Issues and Future Trends
"Community Networks" & "Learning Communities"
Typically, a number of people and institutions have claims towards schools:
- pupils who need to learn;
- teachers who teach;
- headmasters who manage and apply policies;
- parents who cater for the successful integration of their pupils in the social community at large;
- the economy who demands a competent workforce and manpower.
These groups often neutralise each other. This explains why a global strategy is necessary. A common trait for all these groups is that within the "information society" they will all become actors in a learning community that will foster collaborative projects.
- a strategy that will start a socio-political debate is needed;
- all actors have to be part of the learning circle;
- students, parents, teachers, administrations and the economy at large build a "Learning Community" with differing needs but a common goal: to learn in the information society;
- this community has to be combined into a network of networks;
- local networks need to be organised into "Community Networks" - or "Information Rich Networks";
- all these problems should not be reduced to purely technical issues;
- by "network" it is not meant that they are technical infrastructures, but rather that they are goal-oriented networked projects.
School is a highly complex organisation with many interacting forces and parameters: what "buttons" or levers are necessary to be able fine-tune the system ?
Technical vs. Pedagogical Issues
ICT development in schools is a difficult and demanding task. Teachers need pedagogical and technical support in their near proximity: numerous example illustrate the fact that goodwill breaks down rapidly because of a multitude of small unsolved problems. It is therefore necessary to train and provide a number of resource persons to help teachers in their classroom. This support will not provide a purely specialised technical help - it should rather be able to offer a pedagogically sound assistance and act as an animation/integration dynamism in ICT-bound activities. These animators should have enough time to be really helpful, not a cheap proposition. This further explains why early and effective training is a central issue. A procedure that will be complemented with horizontal knowledge transfers among peers. As a matter of fact, the size of a given school will have an influence on how far this procedure can work. Smaller institutions will need more external help than bigger ones.
- pedagogical and technical support is essential for success;
- human, pedagogical and technical costs issues have to be tackled into a meaningful solution;
- school teams need to master minimal skills in what regards functionality and management of ICT;
- ICT-based resource centres have to be created.
Measures for Housing and Infrastructures
- School buildings need to be systematically provided with cable/network capabilities to ensure equal access everywhere to all.
Building up Collaborative Projects among Teachers
Teacher are typical individualists. This tendency is all the more important with specialised teachers. In an ideal new schooling system, teaching methods evolve, collaboration is necessary - and demanded. This effort cannot be a top-down prescription, it rather should be supported by the concerted effort of all actors.
- school managers and headmasters have to understand their role as "engines of innovation";
- from the onset of their training, teachers have to be instructed in the practice of team teaching;
- teachers have to be fluent in using ICT networks in their daily practice (ie, based on educational network servers);
- structural and organisational barriers to collaborative work have to be abolished, as well as strict schedules or time & place constraints;
- task-oriented projects have to be backed by adequate support.
Initial and Continuing Education of Teachers
Just in Time Training/Learning is a demonstrated paradigm for successful learning. Learning by accumulating knowledge is not a proven recipe for efficiency in professional development schemes. This does not preclude the fact that the ability to anticipate and foresee future trends will not be part of a good training, of course !
- "Just in Time Training" is a promising model for the professional development of teachers;
- teachers' continuing education has to happen inside their schools.
Let us consider the lack of teacher trainers in pedagogical ICT practice compared with the total number of teachers active in Switzerland today (90'000). An added motive is the fact that technology itself moves forward at at its own (fast) pace. For all these reasons continuing training of teacher has to find innovative models and practice.
- innovative paradigms of continuing teacher education have to be invented:
- on-line courses have to be produced and developed;
- Integrated Distributed Learning Environments (IDLE) based projects should be encouraged.
ICT teacher training and professional development are a necessity today. This does not mean that it can substitute itself to a sound initial training.
- ICT has to be an integral part of teachers' initial training;
- all acting partners of the prefessionnal development world (teacher trainers, pedagogical schools, professional training institutes and universities) have to co-operate;
Students' and Parents' Needs
What will be the needs of our pupils in the future ? ICT are not a teaching goal in themselves but they bring with them the necessary inpetus to modernise schools pedagogically and organisationally - an inescapable course. One often hears criticism about public state-supported education: it has to react and find solutions to its problems.
- ICT have to be integrated in a global pedagogical scheme - specific product-oriented training is a fallacy;
- the educational world has to reflect on the real needs of learners and students;
- the role of education as a transmitter of knowledge is still valid . Education should not be confused with professional training.
Schoolmasters' and Managers' Responsibilities
A changing school is a highly debated transition, teachers are submitted to strong pressures.
- we need better inspired school managers;
- school managers will need more support and consensus building: many more actors need to be involved in this modernisation process.
20.7.2000 KCTR.CH Group 4
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reengeneering | ict curricula | strategies | future