Academic journal article
By Barak, Miri; Nissim, Yael; Ben-Zvi, Dani
Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects , Vol. 7
The development of information and communication technology (ICT), such as e-books, smart phones, and Web 2.0 applications, has caused far-reaching social and economical changes (Kraut et al., 2002) and recently instigated political shifts. In the past two decades, there has been a growing understanding of the important role of ICT, not only for business and economics, but also for learning and teaching (Barak, & Rafaeli, 2004; Dori, Barak, & Adir, 2003). Advanced technologies are evermore integrated into the classrooms, having the potential to become an integral component of today's education, as well as to change the way class communication and information flows (Barak, Lipson, & Lerman, 2006). The development of rich multimedia and diverse web-based platforms led to the development of advanced educational technologies, enabling the implementation of innovative teaching methods that are based on constructivist and social constructivist approaches (Barak, 2007; Ben-Zvi, 2007; Roseth, Garfield, & Ben-Zvi, 2008). These approaches maintain that knowledge cannot be transferred; it has to be constructed in one's own mind. They also maintain that learning is a socially-mediated experience for which individuals construct knowledge based on interactions with others.
As educational technologies and new learning methods evolve, teachers are expected to adopt and assimilate rich and exciting learning environments. However, research shows that, although many teachers are aware of the educational potential of integrating ICT, a considerable number of them do so in a traditional, teacher-centered manner with no significant change in their teaching strategies (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Cuban, 1993). In order for an educational change to occur, teachers' perceptions and beliefs should also be changed. Teachers' beliefs and world-view have a great influence on the teaching methods and strategies they use (Davis, 2003; Handal & Herrington, 2003). Accordingly, teachers' perceptions of their roles may serve to support or work against the implementation of new ICT practices. The current study examined this claim by investigating whether there is aptness between science teachers' perceptions of their roles and the teaching strategies they use in lessons integrating ICT.
The literature review comprises of three sections. The first section details the roles of science teachers as described in various studies and in national reports. The second section describes different teaching strategies that promote constructivist teaching and learning. The third section focuses on the assimilation of advanced technologies in teaching, emphasizing the teachers as key agents in promoting changes and integrating ICT into the educational system.
Science Teachers' Roles
The standards in the field of science teaching emphasize the need for science teachers to use strategies that develop deep scientific understanding while applying research skills and problem-solving abilities to complex questions (American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], 1993; National Research Council [NRC], 1996). According to these standards, the science teacher's roles are to encourage the construction of new knowledge based on that previously learned and to help students take responsibility for their learning. The science teacher should promote learning by encouraging discussion among learners, fostering cooperation, and creating a learning community. The standards recommend teaching with the assistance of colleagues from the sciences and other academic fields in order to connect science teaching with additional disciplines, such as technology, languages, and the social sciences (AAAS, 1993; NRC, 1996). A review of the literature points to four main roles for the constructivist science teacher: guide, motivator, partner, and innovator. The following paragraphs provide the definition and characterization for each role. …