Technology training for teachers – not negotiable

Sunday, October 9th, 2011 | education

One of the critical success factors of implementing technology solutions in schools is the proficiency of teachers in the use of technology as a teaching and a learning tool.  This is why technology training of teachers must form a prominent part of plans for the implementation of technology in schools.

Why is technology training of teachers so important?

Consider the following factors:

Few teachers have been exposed to technology, particularly computer technology.  The use of technology is foreign to them and technology jargon makes no sense to them.

Even fewer teachers have experience in the use of technology as a teaching tool.  They have no knowledge of the various hardware and software products that can be used in the classroom.

Most teachers do not understand the pedagogical value of technology.  Their under-graduate training (and even post-graduate training) did not include the use of technology and so most teachers are unfamiliar with its benefits and they do not have the skills to harness technology in the classroom.

In order to make technology implementation initiatives successful, adequate provision must be made to develop teachers to become competent technology users.

The term “professional development” is often used by the education fraternity.  Whenever the curriculum changes (for example when there was a move a decade ago towards outcomes based education, and recently, when there was a move away from it) or when there is a shift in teaching methodology, great efforts – and huge amounts of public funding – are put into so-called continuing professional development.

The introduction of technology into education requires a major shift in teaching methodology – this, in turn, requires a major shift in the mindset of teachers.  If a school or education authority – or any other organization – is contemplating the implementation of technology projects in schools, professional development of teachers in the use of technology is crucial.

Without careful planning, execution and funding of such continuing professional training, the implementation of technology projects is at risk.

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2 Comments to Technology training for teachers – not negotiable

Mark C
Sunday, 9 October, 2011

Educational technology is a fairly young field of research and looks at the effect of ICTs in education. This community is still very small in South Africa and tend to be the “converted”. What about the “unconverted”? How do we convince them of the value of technology, no matter what it is? What is of concern is why research never or rarely informs our practice in the classroom? How does research influence teacher training and practice?

Training in the use of technology is of paramount importance because not only are the teachers left behind, but the learners too. We all learn different things from each other. I should be the example. If I read a book regularly then my children will most likely be readers too (this is not automatic but it is likely). If I use ICT then my children will likely be ICT users too (this, in my case is very likely). They not only learn from me, but do their own thing and have gone beyond what I know. This is good. If teachers don’t use ICT in their teaching, how will learners emulate what teachers do, innovate (bring about new ideas) and move beyond the walls of the classroom?

Just yesterday I taught various sections of Physical Science at a Maths and Science school. I could use a program to draw organic molecules and rotate them in 3D. Also, in the same section of work I could draw on the IT and CAT skills the learners already had to draw up a table and graph which they had to interpret. We did this on the Interactive Whiteboard. This is how I got them involved in their learning and they could tell me what else to do. (Jmol + Excel + IWB)

Unfortunately we did not have the time and the equipment but I wanted to take the learners through an investigation to answer a simple question: How does the temperature in your mouth differ from the temperature under your arm?
We needed some data logging equipment and a computer. Learners are already doing investigations, but they are being held back when they don’t have the necessary (ICT) equipment, (ICT) expertise and a positive environment to thrive.

Of course the ICT experts can do it for teachers or learners. Why must the knowledge and skills be left in their hands? We should all dip into the same pool and be knowledge/skill users. If we don’t somebody else will the opportunity and move ahead.

Kobus van Wyk
Sunday, 9 October, 2011

Thanks, Mark, for this powerful motivation for teachers to “dip into the pool” … we need more e-pioneers like you to set the lead.

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