Releasing the Pedagogical Power of Information and Communication Technology for Learners: A Case Study

By Knight, Cecily; Knight, Bruce Allen et al. | International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, May/June 2006 | Go to article overview

Releasing the Pedagogical Power of Information and Communication Technology for Learners: A Case Study


Knight, Cecily, Knight, Bruce Allen, Teghe, Daniel, International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology


ABSTRACT

There is currently much debate around how best to incorporate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into teacher education programs (Karsenti, 2001; Snider, 2002; Bain, 2004). Rapid advances in ICTs demand changes to our education systems. Computer technology has been absorbed into our schools but in many instances teachers simply deliver old lessons in a new format, and rarely fully capitalise on this technology in their practice. This article explores two issues, firstly, what are the barriers to educators embracing the new technologies, and secondly, what role do teacher education programs play in breaking down the barriers. In discussing these issues, initiatives being undertaken in Queensland are highlighted.

INTRODUCTION

Western societies are currently experiencing a transition from the industrial economy to the knowledge economy (Hargreaves, 2000), with obvious implications for education systems. Miller (2003, p.2) suggests that changes in the socioeconomic landscape raises questions about the role of schools in the 21st century, and asks:

Under what conditions could today's schools play the same roles as in the past? Can the schools evolve along with the changing socio-economic context, and if so, how? Further, will the school serve as a brake or accelerator of desired changes?

International research into the attitudes and skills of educators indicates that they have difficulties in embracing the rapid changes they are faced with (Albee, 2003; Bain, 2004; Christensen, 2002; Iding, Crosby, & Speitel, 2002; Plotnick, 2004; Rovai & Childress, 2003; Simpson, Payne, Munro & Hughes, 1999; Tsitouridou & Vryzas, 2003). While most educators appear to acknowledge the importance and relevance of Information and Communication Technologies within teaching, difficulties nevertheless continue to be experienced within the processes of adopting these technologies. Significantly, there is a gap between the valuing and relevance of 'new skills' and the extent to which they are practised in schools. For example, Simpson et al (1999, p.248) report that:

It appears that in tutors' delivery of the courses, the students seldom experienced demonstrations of the use of ICT as a teaching tool-i. e. the tutors seldom modelled its use through their own practices. The high level of importance and priority that tutors attach to ICT as an educational tool might be expected to be reflected in the extent to which they do not merely encourage, but also require its use by students.

On anecdotal evidence, these difficulties appear to be similar to those currently experienced by Australian educators. We agree with Miller (2003) and suggest that, in relation to ICT, our schools have been operating as a brake more often than an accelerator.

As teacher educators, we need to take some responsibility for this and seek ways to address the issues. In the event, there is a need therefore to better prepare teachers to use the technology as a significant tool within teaching practices.

THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY

Gaining an understanding of our past helps us to understand the present and consider what is possible for the future. It is clear that society in the 21st century is different to that of the 20th century. The education systems of the welfare states, which prepared students for an industrial society, have given way to the new economy and globalisation (Hargreaves, 2000; Knight, 2000, 2002).

The industrial revolution has had a profound effect on education systems. Education systems were planned attempts to prepare people for a world of work increasingly dominated by manufacturing. The old economy demanded a vocational training mentality. We can observe many practices in our schools that are closely aligned to those used to regiment industry. For example, whistles in factories and bells in schools; clocking on and off at a regular time in the factory and 9-3 in schools; pay grades in factories and grades on report cards in schools; promotion through pleasing a boss and success through pleasing a teacher and meeting the requirements of standardised tests. …

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