Main Barriers and Possible Enablers of ICTs Integration into Pre-Service Teacher Education Programs

Article excerpt

Introduction

Increasing the quality of teaching and learning has been a seemingly important concern for education. Since the beginning of this century, education has faced a variety of social, cultural, economical, and technical challenges. As the study and practice of facilitating learning and improving performance (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008), the field of educational technology attempts to overcome challenges by developing new approaches and frameworks. In this context, information and communication technologies (ICTs) represent a new approach for enhancing the dissemination of information and helping to meet these challenges. ICTs comprise the use of at least a computer and the Internet as well as computer hardware and software, networks, and a host of devices that convert information (text, images, sounds, and motion) into general digital formats (Lever-Duffy, McDonald, & Mizell, 2003; USDE, 2000; ISTE, 1999).

A predetermined process is important for the integration of ICTs in the classroom, curriculum, school management, library, and any educational setting. Integration of ICTs enhances the quality of education by helping teachers to do their job and by helping students to learn more effectively. In these contexts, teachers' shifting role in the 21st century involves an essential mission, which is to be the frontier for applying technological innovations to the teaching and learning process. At this point, necessary skills and the level of future teachers' readiness are key factors in implementing new ICTs. Consequently, schools of teacher education play a crucial role in preparing future teachers to become proficient in the integration of ICTs into the curriculum. They need to help prospective teachers understand how ICTs can be used to teach content in rich and meaningful ways (ISTE, 1999; Keating & Evans, 2001; Roblyer & Edwards, 2000).

On the other hand, integration of ICTs into pre-service teacher education is critical to integrating ICTs in K-12 schools. Despite the huge investment of financial and human resources, pre-service teacher education programs do not currently provide prospective teachers with the necessary skills, competencies, and experiences to prepare them to use ICTs effectively in their future profession (Duran, 2000; Moursund & Bielefeldt, 1999; Bullock, 2004; Mehlinger & Powers, 2002). In light of the above-mentioned literature, it is obvious that integration of ICTs into preservice teacher education is influenced by many barriers.

Bromme, Hesse, and Spada (2005) said of a barrier: "It comes from psychological research on problem solving and creativity. There it refers to the gap between an initial and end state. In other words, barriers are challenges which have to be overcome in order to attain a goal" (p. 1). The authors also stated that the localization of difficulties always depends on theoretically based assumptions concerning the nature of barriers. Working with ICTs is often difficult, simply because ICTs are new, and because individual and social routines have to be established in using them. Additionally, the use of ICTs is complicated because it involves not only the use of alternative tools for dealing with old, conventional problems but also expectations that these technologies will help in meeting new challenges.

A variety of action plans have been developed to effectively integrate ICTs in pre-service teacher education programs, but many barriers still exist in practice. To facilitate these plans, barriers need to be identified so that they may be overcome. ICTs integration in pre-service teacher education programs continues to be a challenge all around the world. To ease this struggle, Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, and Woods (1999) noted that "when educators and researchers look for reasons why teachers are struggling to use ICTs effectively, it may be important to look at what they have (in terms of beliefs and practices) in addition to what they do not have (in terms of equipment)" (p. …