B. Applying ICT to the Teachers Subject Area
At this stage teachers have confidence in a number of generic and specialised ICT tools that can applied to the teaching of their subject area. The opportunity to apply ICT in all of their teaching is often limited by the lack of ready access to ICT facilities and resources, hence it is not fully integrated into all lessons for all students.
Specific examples are provided in Appendix B, the student curriculum to illustrate how teachers apply ICT in their teaching, in languages, natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences and art:
There are general competencies, common to all the uses, whatever the subject area. The focus of training and professional develop will need to focus upon these areas as teachers technical confidence and competence grows and they are seeking ways to improve their teaching.
Examples of general competencies:
- to be able to decide why, when, where and how ICT tools will be contribute to the teaching objectives and not provide a distraction. To choose from among a range ICT tools the ones which are the most appropriate to stimulate pupils learning.
- to chose ICT tools and pedagogy from those recommended for the specific subject.
- to explain the reasons why the ICT tools and pedagogy have been chosen.
- to emphasise the contents of students productions.
- to plan a whole learning process (lesson sequence) deciding in advance when and how ICT will be used.
- to be able to manage a class-based learning environment using team work to achieve teaching objectives.
- to be able to describe technical breakdown or difficulties in using ICT to achieve planned lesson objectives.
- to understand the difference between pupils according to their competencies using ICT, to have available strategies to manage differences in progress.
- to be able to decide when whole class or group multimedia presentations will be useful.
- to vary the kind of presentation or documents according to the main goals and the chosen method.
- to analyse a presentation for legibility, structure, coherence with the objectives, adequacy to the students.
- to be able to analyse subject specific multimedia educational software.
- CD-ROMs, hypermedia, web sites, video and audio, courseware.
- to assess the activity proposed to the learner and contribution to the lesson objectives.
- to analyse the specific contribution of the ICT tools to individual students learning.
- to be able to prepare students to find, compare and analyse information from the internet and from other sources specific to the subject area.
- to teach students to construct simple searches.
- to help students to manage, to criticise, to synthesise and to present information using ICT tools.
- to be able to choose and use appropriate tools to communicate, according to the teachers own objectives, with colleagues or with their own students.
- to assess communication to use teaching situations to facilitate collaboration.
- to be able to use ICT more efficiently, choosing training sessions and participating to new developments in order to improve professional development.
- to participate and to be active in groups working about the use of ICT.
- to use ICT tools (forums, conferencing, bulleting boards, email) to collaborate in the improvement of teaching and learning and management of learning processes.
How to organise Teacher Development in Area B?
To be able to use ICT in the teaching process itself and be able to perform all the abilities mentioned above in your own subject area, a more adapted training is required. The way this «training» could be carried out depends on the learning style of the teachers involved as well as on the subject area and specific application. We mention the following possibilities:
- Training courses, seminars and workshops on specific applications used in the teachers subject area. It is sometimes recommended to include these ICT workshops in accepted conferences within the specific teacher subject community in order to diminish the threshold for participation.
- Communities of teachers, set up with a particular goal. In this case some colleague teachers (from different schools, but within one subject, best number seems to be between 6 and 12 teachers) can decide to work together (perhaps with expert coaching) on the implementation of a certain ICT topic into their curriculum. They can communicate by means of a virtual community (they have «done» Unit A7!), but it appears to be very necessary to organize face to face meetings as well. The success of these teacher «networks» is proven, although there are pitfalls to be taken care off:
- not to much difference in starting position,
- an equal input of members,
- an open mind for sharing experiences,
- involvement of all the members,
- task orientation,
- shared responsibility but also somebody who teaks the organisational lead.
- There are new ways of development emerging. In different countries information resources are set up for applications of ICT in the curriculum. Mostly these resources are to find on the Internet. Sometimes they only give brief or extensive information, sometimes they give access to training facilities, sometimes there are possibilities for on line learning by means of video-conferencing.
Do not forget
- At this stage, the emphasis is on the use of generic or specialist tools to improve teaching, in a particular subject area.
- Teachers working together in the same subject area can work together in their school to share their ideas and the learning resources they have prepared.
- The teacher needs to able to assess the contribution of ICT tools to subject skills and knowledge.
- At this stage teachers need to develop their pedagogy as well as further developing their technical confidence and competence.
- The teacher will still want to control the teaching and learning processes to ensure the lesson will be a success: they will only experiment as their pedagogy develops.
- The teacher is likely to use ICT in lessons that they know they are successful in teaching: this can sometimes lead to frustration, as the lesson was not as good. It is good to suggest ICT be used where they know the lesson could be improved, and then if it goes wrong it is not as worrying.