Academic journal article Journal of Distance Education (Online)

Educational Technology in a French Teacher Training University: Teacher Educators' "Voice"

Academic journal article Journal of Distance Education (Online)

Educational Technology in a French Teacher Training University: Teacher Educators' "Voice"

Article excerpt

Introduction

In France, the Ministry of National Education has worked on computer integration in teaching, with the aim being to encourage innovation (Bruillard, 2011). Several steps have been taken by the French education system for the development of computer and multimedia skills, both in school systems and at all levels, with a marked commitment at the university level. For example, 'France Digital University' (France Université Numérique - called 'FUN') has an initiative for higher education 2013-17, with the aims of improving student success and transitions, encouraging new pedagogical approaches, using ICT to drive new studentcentered pedagogy, and supporting the development of connected campuses. However, according to OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), only 24% of teachers in France use ICT for students' projects or class work (the EU average is 34%).

Considering this, more responsibility is given by the teacher training institutes to an adequate level of technological training for future teachers or teachers already in service. Indeed, the development of technological expertise is considered a priority for future teachers during their training (Carugati & Tomasetto, 2002; Fisher, Higgins & Loveless, 2006). It is important to determine the conditions necessary for the use of technology in teachers' training that can bring positive and profitable results in student-teachers' progress (Russell, Bebell, O'Dwyer, & O'Connor, 2003). A series of studies have been conducted on technology in teacher training, considering teachers' perceptions, the integration of educational technology in pedagogical practices and classroom management (Genevois & Poyet, 2010). In this paper, our focus is specifically the perception and the use of educational technology in a French teaching institute by teacher educators. We consider the perspective of teacher educators useful to bring out significant insights into the student-teachers' ICT training.

The first part of the paper will explore technology in teacher training. Then, we will move on to present the study in the French context and, finally, discuss the results.

Technology in Teacher Training

During teacher training, ICT is often used in a traditional pedagogical setting, rather than to help the construction of students' knowledge (Depover, Karsenti & Komi, 2007; Pamuk, 2012). Consequently, student-teachers' experience of using ICT pedagogically is rather limited (Graham, Tripp & Wentworth, 2009). Thus, once in service, future teachers tend to reproduce the same uses (Koh & Divaharan, 2011), or to add technology to traditional learning methods only. It appears that only after several years of experience do teachers begin to incorporate more critical approaches to the integration of technologies (Béziat, 2012).

For this reason, it becomes necessary to investigate and support the use of technology in the training of teachers. In France, great attention is paid to the implementation of technologies in teacher training, such as digital work environments (Pacurar & Abbas, 2015) and ePortfolios (Bucheton, 2003). Digital work environments are based on architectural software, which integrates institutional tools like attendance, grades, grade transcripts, text notebooks, emails and forums and pedagogical tools like collaborative environments and digital resources (Henry & Joris, 2013). The use of ePortfolios as an assessment device is widespread in preservice teacher education, due to its potential in support and reflection on professional practice (Ricard-Fersing, Dubant-Birglin & Crinon, 2002; Impedovo, Ritella & Ligorio, 2013; Zeichner, Hutchinson, 2004).

The Use of Technology by Teacher Educators

Technology integration is a large topic of discussion in education (Lowther, Strahl, Inan, & Ross, 2008). It is possible to find different levels of integration and use of technology by teachers (Wozney, Venkatesh, & Abrami, 2006). …

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