Using a Learner-Centered Approach to Teach ICT in Secondary Schools: An Exploratory Study

By Hadjerrouit, Said | Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology, Annual 2008 | Go to article overview

Using a Learner-Centered Approach to Teach ICT in Secondary Schools: An Exploratory Study


Hadjerrouit, Said, Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology


Introduction

The new national curriculum for schools in Norway from 2006 requires teachers to acquire a high degree of digital literacy in all subjects (Erstad, 2006; Krumsvik, 2006). However, in order to incorporate digital literacy in an effective way, there is a need for innovative pedagogical approaches to ICT. Traditional ICT teaching methods do not provide understanding of ICT on a deeper level than memorizing details of the software, reproducing information about buttons, menu commands, and dialogue boxes (Herskin 2004; Sein, Bostrom, & Olfman, 1998). Furthermore, despite the emphasis on ICT in secondary schools, ICT pedagogy is still in its infancy and there is a lack of essential computer skills among teachers, partly because, in contrast to mathematics, ICT as a school subject is a young discipline (Woollard, 2005). While there is a huge literature on the use of ICT as a tool in teaching and learning, there is much less published research work on the teaching of ICT as a school subject. As a result, there have been in the past and there persist even now strong disagreements about the nature of ICT or similar designations, such as informatics or computer science, its aims, content, teaching and learning methods, and assessment approaches (Hammond, 2004). In line with international research in the field of school informatics (Dagdilelis, Dagdilelis, Satratzemi, & Evangelidis, 2004; McDougall & Boyle, 2004; UNESCO, 2002; Watson, 2006; Woollard, 2005), this paper argues that innovative pedagogies based on contemporary learning theories can be a catalyst to incorporate digital literacy in an effective way. In line with the cognitive, constructivist, and situated learning theories, this paper presents a learner-centered ICT teaching method that is supposed to provide the students with a more thorough understanding of ICT as a school subject. To assess the pedagogical value of the method, it is intended to involve student teachers, having a university degree in informatics, in applying and evaluating the method in their teaching practice in upper secondary schools (the last three years of secondary education). Hence, the main objective of this work is to investigate the effectiveness of the ICT teaching method, and critical factors of success, through successive cycles of experiments based on the Design-based research paradigm (The Design-Based Research Collective; 2003).

Research Methodology

In this section the research methodology and associated research goals and questions are presented.

Design-Based Research

Design-based research is "an emerging paradigm for the study of learning in context through the systematic design and study of instructional strategies and tools" (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003, p. 5). The purpose of Design-based research is to develop theories about the learning process and the pedagogical means that are designed to support that learning (Barab & Squire, 2004). The essential characteristic of Design-based research is that it describes a continuous cycle, or feedback loop, of gradual refinement of the proposed theories. Refinements are continually made through successive cycles of experimentations, where the shortcomings of each cycle are identified, re-designed, re-implemented, and re-evaluated. Each cycle has four major phases: analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation. To better focus on the process as a research methodology, depending on information and producing results, two columns labeled inputs and outputs are shown in Figure 1. Inputs are influencing factors. Outputs are results of the process steps. Design-based research in ICT education involves four major phases:

1. It begins with the analysis of the learning problems of current educational practice in the field of ICT education. A critical literature review is conducted, thereby generating the formulation of hypotheses and research questions of interest. …

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