Teachers’ confidence in the use of technologies is a key factor in how and the extent to which digital technologies are used (Wozney, Venkatesh, and Abrami 2006). Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010), felt that ‘personal mastery’ in using the technologies and the recognition and satisfaction of helping students learn are key factors in boosting confidence. This signals the importance of the provision of high quality training and professional development.
Becta (2004), when reviewing the barriers to the effective use of ICT, identified the presence of high-level support as being important in enabling teachers to overcome issues relating to lack of confidence. They suggested teachers and student teachers require support from a range of sources; peers, technicians and networks to gain the ‘personal mastery’ they need. The teachers involved in the DeFT project found networking extremely helpful – as well as time to play with the technology! (Somekh 2008). They all commented on the value of being part of a professional learning community, gaining knowledge and support from each other. In addition, by situating the case studies in the context of current curriculum objectives the learning for them and their pupils was meaningful and gave everyone involved the confidence to develop further projects within their schools and communities.
Observations of trainees’ classroom practice by Szpytma and Bone (2011) provided evidence of trainees’ growing confidence in using new technologies in taught sessions, however, confidence needs to be combined with sound pedagogical practice as always to ensure learning is meaningful and relevant.
22.214.171.124 Subject Knowledge and Professional Development
The development of appropriate teaching and learning techniques and strategies requires teachers to be conversant with and able to apply knowledge of the subject and its associated pedagogy. In this sense knowing one’s subject well is co-dependent on an understanding of the misconceptions that learners are likely to have, and familiarity with questioning that can elicit them.
Schulman (1986) defined knowledge and teaching in this way:
….teacher knowledge includes knowledge of the subject (content knowledge-CK), knowledge of teaching methods and classroom management strategies (pedagogical knowledge-PK), and knowledge of how to teach specific content to specific learners in specific contexts (pedagogical content knowledge-PCK). (Schulman, 1986)
Shulman (1987) added four more categories to this:
….knowledge of the materials for instruction…. knowledge of the characteristics of the learners (learner knowledge)….knowledge of educational contexts (classrooms, schools, districts)….knowledge of educational goals and beliefs. (Shulman 1987)
Mishra and Koehler (2006) drew on Shulman’s work to introduce the concept of ‘Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge’ (TPCK). This refers specifically to the knowledge required to apply and embed the use of technology in subject teaching.
As a kind of knowledge of digital pedagogy, this facility, or fluency of technology in learning and teaching contexts, is seen by some teachers as crucial to coping with the expectations of the ‘digitally ready’ classroom and school. Those new to teaching or those lacking in confidence regarding technological or pedagogical subject knowledge often voice concerns at not being able to keep up with the digital expertise they believe their pupils possess. The corollary of this, that learners can be a source of expertise in classrooms, is an orientation that teachers who are new to teaching are less comfortable with, indicating, perhaps, that TPCK is essential for teachers to understand ways that technology can enhance how the subject might be taught.
Continuing professional development is key to developing subject knowledge and professional expertise. Teachers across the Case Studies (see Chapter 5: Examples of Practice) showed preference for a hands-on, playful approach to CPD in order to enable them to have the time and space to explore the potential of technology for teaching and learning.
The comments from English teachers illustrate this:
‘There should be times that we are assigned that we can do some training and…. have a go at playing with technology a bit more.’
‘If you buy technology at home or you buy a new car, you tend to learn how all the buttons work kind of as you’re learning it, rather than by reading the manual or being trained to use it and maybe teaching doesn’t really allow you to do that.’
Talking about openness and the use of open education resources, these student teachers are wary of the time it takes to select and apply materials in their own contexts:
‘We’re not experts in it, in our mind we have a mental image of it taking a lot of time to prepare’. (teacher comments)
‘I think there’s a sense of kind of –redoing things that you might already do electronically … replacing something will always come slightly lower down the priority than perhaps developing something from scratch’
Rosaen and Terpstra (2012) argue that it is important to engage teacher in first-hand design experiences that enable them to discover for themselves what it is like to read and write in multimodal ways (see 3.6.1 Multimodality). This can be facilitated by development courses that offer teachers ‘hands-on’ opportunities to create multimodal, multimedia text for themselves.
Finally, the provision of opportunities for reflection is vital; being given or allowing time to do this cannot be stressed enough. New technologies offer ready access to reflection in action (for example Twitter) as well as reflection on action (Blogs and Wikis) and are more readily used professionally and socially than ever before. Reflective professional spaces on social networking sites (such as FaceBook, or Google+ can be effective space for professionals to use within their own school context (See Case Study 10) or to share ideas, resources with a wider network, a strategy adopted many teachers (see Case Study 7).
See also: 4.2 Digital Literacy in Teacher Education
Support comes in many forms in school: ICT technicians, peers, parents, community projects, and OER networks and there are hundreds of websites offering curriculum materials and ideas including
Historically, much of the support for maintained schools was provided by Local Authorities in the form of advisers and advisory teachers. Much of this work was incorporated into a network of City Learning Centres (CLCs) from 2001, and though some generate sufficient income to remain open and work in partnership with schools, colleges and businesses (See Case Study 13), many closed when government funding was removed from 2010. However, most local authorities still maintain Grids for Learning, providing open resources and information for any user and closed areas for schools within the area.
Since 1998, Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) have been employed to work in maintained schools supporting teaching colleagues in their own schools as well as other schools in the area (See Case Study 1). Becta, formed in 1998 to build on and extend the work of the National Council for Educational Technology (NCET) which was closed in 2011 when government funding was removed.
JISC, in its definition of digital literacy as ‘a society-wide entitlement’ to these capabilities at some level, suggests that it could be considered seen as ‘a responsibility of the whole education system’ and of ‘wider society’. One implication of this is the need to advocate many more collaborative projects online and offline in order that digital literacy is embedded in our schools and that supportive networks are important.
The case studies in the DeFT Project built upon a pre-existing network to establish a community of practitioners including HE tutors, teachers, students, researchers and partners. This established a creative synergy which provides a model for developing Digital Literacy that cuts across sectional interests and structural constraints.
126.96.36.199 Curriculum Flexibility
In a review of barriers to the use of technology in teaching, Balanskat et al. (2006) refer to the ‘rigid structure of the traditional schooling system’. However, it is often the case that some of these concerns can be self-imposed (Marsh, 2006). There is a range of evidence to suggest that positive attainment in examinations and achievement of narrow curriculum objectives can be obtained through creative approaches to the curriculum (Marsh and Bearne, 2008).
When reflecting on their involvement with the project, the teachers in the DeFT project acknowledged that their case studies demanded a great deal of classroom time and their own time. This is a common perception and can be a real barrier to integrating digital technologies into a demanding subject-led curriculum with the added constraints of continual targets, assessments, observations and inspections; there is a feeling in some schools that digital literacy ‘projects’ are not as highly valued as more traditional projects as the time they can take to complete are disproportionate to the time and effort invested in them. .
The review of the National Curriculum leading to the launch of the revised Curriculum in 2014 is considering streamlining the essential knowledge needed by all children to give school more flexibility in delivering the curriculum (DfE 2012).
Curriculum flexibility was evident in several case studies demonstrating a creative, cross-curricular approach and innovative practices. (See Case Study 4, and Case Study 6 as examples of this).
Teachers’ attitudes can have an important effect on their capacity and desire to develop digital literacy in the classroom. Where teachers express concerns, they are less likely to engage with technologies in the curriculum. However, when teachers have positive views towards technologies, they feel more able to take risks and challenge traditional practices. With regard to professional development Pountney (2003) finds teachers’ dispositions towards training in ICT to be shaped by complex models of compliance and autonomous activity. This signals the importance of providing time for student teachers to examine and reflect on their attitudes and beliefs during their initial training programmes. The case studies carried out in the two HEI institutions involved in this project highlight the benefits of engaging students in this process. (See Case Study 11, Case Study 12, and Case Study 13)
This review of barriers and enablers to good practice in digital literacy is not intended to be exhaustive, but offers an overview of the key challenges and opportunities. The case studies provide an illuminative insight into both barriers and enablers and illustrate how a barrier can be transformed through the provision of appropriate support and resources.
188.8.131.52 References / Links to Further Resources
Balanskat, A., Blamire, R., and Kefala, S. (2006) The ICT Impact Report: A review of studies of ICT impact on schools in Europe. European Schoolnet. Accessed 5/11/12 at: http://insight.eun.org/ww/en/pub/insight/misc/specialreports/impact_study.htm
Becta (2004). A Review of the Research Literature on Barriers to the Uptake of ICT by Teachers. Accessed 5/11/12 at: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/1603/
DfE (2012) Review of the National Curriculum. Accessed 5/11/12 at: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/nationalcurriculum
Ertmer, P., and Ottenbreit-Leftwich A. (2010) Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect JRTE, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 255–284
JISC (2011) Briefing Paper in support of JISC Grant Funding 4/11, Developing Digital Literacies. Accessed 5/11/12 at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/funding/2011/04/Briefingpaper.pdf
Marsh. J. (2006) Popular Culture and Literacy: A Bourdieuan Analysis. Reading Research Quarterly. Vol. 46, 2. pp160-174.
Marsh, J. and Bearne, E. (2008) Moving Literacy On: Evaluation of the BFI Training Project for Lead Practitioners on Moving Image Education. Leicester: UKLA.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge . Teachers College Record 108 (6), 1017-1054. Accessed 5/11/12 at: http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf
Pountney, R. (2003). Ready and willing? Factors impacting on engagement with professional development in ICT in primary schools. Paper presented at the ITTE (The Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education) 2003 conference, Leeds, July 2003. Accessed 28/10/12 at: http://bit.ly/RCJwdL
Rosaen C and Terpstra M (2012). ‘Widening worlds: understanding and teaching new literacies’. Studying Teacher Education: A Journal of Self-study of Teacher Education Practices, 8(1): 35–49.
Somekh, B. (2008). Factors affecting teachers’ pedagogical adoption of ICT. In J. Voogt & G.
Shulman, L. S. (1987) Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard educational review 57.1: 1-23.
Szpytma, E., and Bone, C. (2011) Embedding eSkills in Initial Teacher Training, Teaching in lifelong learning [journal] 3.2: 3-15.
Wozney, L., Venkatesh, V., & Abrami, P. C. (2006). Implementing computer technologies: Teachers’ perceptions and practices. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14, 173–207.