Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Responding to Challenges in Teacher Professional Development for ICT Integration in Education

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Responding to Challenges in Teacher Professional Development for ICT Integration in Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

Teacher learning for ICT integration was an important topic in the International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (Voogt & Knezek, 2008), which initiated the EDUsummIT meetings that included working groups on teacher professional development (TPD). In 2011, Thematic Working Group 3 (TWG3) on TPD at EDUsummIT highlighted the necessity of aligning action at multiple levels in order to ensure a shared vision of what is desirable and possible (Twining, Raffaghelli, Albion, & Knezek, 2013). Working from the recommendations of EDUsummIT 2011, the working group on TPD at EDUsummIT 2013 began with three foci for discussion, namely, engaging all stakeholders in developing a shared vision for ICT in education, engaging more teachers in communities and networks for PD, and reducing the gap between educational research and practice. Their discussions reaffirmed the importance of engaging all stakeholders in decisions, promoting networks and communities for TPD, and integrating ICT in authentic TPD. A paper developed from those discussions presented a set of illustrative cases and a conceptual model for linking research with practice (Albion, Tondeur, Forkosh-Baruch, & Peeraer, 2015).

The working group on TPD (TWG3) at EDUsummIT 2015 in Bangkok had the deliberations from previous meetings as background and was conscious of the challenges of ensuring that TPD for ICT integration in education meets the needs of teachers across a wide variety of contexts and cultures. Lack of suitable TPD may exacerbate the digital divide that already exists at multiple levels between and within countries and even within individual schools (Anderson, 2010). Hence, merely providing ICT does not inevitably improve learning, but beyond access, it is how teachers use ICT that makes a difference, and TPD is critical to achieving valued outcomes. This paper addresses the challenges to effective TPD identified during those discussions by presenting a set of cases that have highlighted the challenges in different contexts and abstracting lessons learned to suggest a model for effective TPD.

Challenges for TPD

ICT implementation in education systems should be accomplished systematically, following evidence-based diffusion models (Kozma & Vota, 2014). Technology utilization de facto, however, is far from being a means for systemic change: It rather facilitates "islands of innovation," based on stellar cases carried out by excellent teachers, who practice innovative pedagogy using technology unrelated to TPD (Forkosh-Baruch, Nachmias, Mioduser, & Tubin, 2005). Extending and diffusing these individual excellent practices may occur by constructing professional learning communities within schools, in a model of networked communities of practice that facilitate sharing of experiences (Twining et al., 2013). Currently, allocation of resources for the improvement of the quality of teacher professional knowledge is insufficient in scope and in quality (Leask & Younie, 2013). At the same time, ICT is expected to transform education, thereby promoting 21st century skills. Hence, the need for effective TPD is crucial, but we must ask what TPD would be most beneficial and how should it be most effectively delivered, so that the digital divide is overcome, and the gaps identified in usage and outcomes are addressed.

Determining teacher effectiveness, specifically when using ICT, is challenging. Ministries of Education worldwide expect ICT to be used to enhance the quality of education; nevertheless, there is insufficient ICT-utilization to assist teachers in gaining professional knowledge to improve their practice (Leask & Younie, 2013). Modeling technology utilization for professional development may serve as a powerful means of facilitating teachers' use of technology innovatively in class (Ertmer et al., 2012). These are among the numerous challenges to TPD for ICT in education. …

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