24 November 2011
Now e-learning is 11 years old, I wanted to know how teachers now felt about technology in teaching and to what degree our attitude to technology in education has changed. How might that affect what and how we train teachers both in the initial and ongoing stage.
The study is funded by LSIS and has so far involved 700 teachers responding to 17 descriptions of technology in action and how they feel about technology. Instead of asking about the processes of technology we wanted to know how teachers felt about their use of technology in teaching.
The results are illuminating. Because we asked teachers to examine their feelings, we were in essence asking them about their confidence levels. In response to this emotive approach, respondents felt the need to justify, explain, defend or champion their choices with over 93.000 words of free response in addition to their responses, and, with their choices gave us 247,000 in 700 individual stories of current practice in using technology. This Paper summarises the main points of those stories and what the implications might be for those who train teachers, support and manage their continued development and offer training.
Confidence emerges in our study as the critical measurement in the effective use of technology. We think e-confidence and e-maturity are closely related and one is a measurement of the other. Teachers who are confident about and use technology in their private lives are curious how that use can transfer into their teaching practice. For many the problem lies not in technology generally but how it might be applied to purposeful pedagogy. 10 years ago, teachers were new to digital technology and anxious about how it might change working patterns and indeed being in work at all.
When it comes to expert help, teachers come to technology with curiosity to see how it might help teaching and learning rather than being passive and waiting to be directed how to use it. Training today needs to be more about help in applying technology. The days of directing how software works, shown in abstract seem to be over. A level of confidence in confronting technology to use in teaching is more important than the level of knowledge about specific technologies.
Contrary perhaps to how organisational cultures may want it, the technology used in learning is fragmenting and is supporting highly individualised patterns of use. Increasingly this involves the use of technology owned by the students. The common factor that holds the creative chaos that could ensue together is the application of the constant values of good teaching & learning and it is evident throughout the narratives how well teachers attempt to describe the use of technology in terms of its ability to serve teaching and learning. It provides the compass bearings that make this apparent jigsaw of technology – as it is the combination of software/apps and the technologies themselves that create the possibilities we see as manifest in the narratives. The uniform and regularised use of large, centralised technology hosted by the college has its place but it is no longer the only game in town. Equally there is no one way to use technology. ‘Best practice’ is perhaps better now put aside and replaced with ‘great practice in a given circumstance’. Teachers are very good at taking the essence of a great idea and reformatting it to their own circumstances (although this may not be happening as it should). This fragmentation of technology and ideas for its use reminds us of the value of Divergent Thinking and the power of creative thinking that is such an important part of the skills and abilities demanded by HE and Governments. The uniqueness of this move towards personal journeys supports divergence and allows ‘a hundred flowers to bloom’. Instead of teachers being told there is one way and ‘best practice’ means ‘the only practice’, we are being told of great or at least promising practice in given circumstances.
A copy of the full Paper is attached by clicking on the title