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ICT in Teacher Education

Without willing and knowledgeable teachers, students cannot benefit from the educational opportunities afforded by technology. This article discusses training programmes for teachers - who are at the heart of education.

July 2004

A radical transformation of learning environments is taking place. These changes have generated new information sources and new learning processes, which have contributed to changing the role of teachers.

Contrary to many teachers' fears, they are not an endangered species. Teachers and instructors are not at risk of being replaced by computers, but with the advent of ICT and the development of knowledge-based societies, their roles need to be redefined. Teachers are no longer dispensers of knowledge but are proactive facilitators who promote collaborative knowledge building and guide students, to navigate and process a multitude of information resources, and to use these resources in solving problems and making decisions on their own.

Many countries in the region have realized the need for redefining teachers' roles and have responded by launching professional development programmes to train teachers in the use of computers. However, many of these training activities so far have been one-off, crash programmes which focus on computer literacy and do not enable teachers to actually integrate ICT into day-to-day classroom instruction.

Learning to use computers and the Internet is a relatively simple task, but mastering ICT use as an effective tool to improve teaching and learning is not. Teachers need training not only in computer literacy but also in the pedagogical application of those skills to improve teaching and learning.

But while ICT present new challenges for teachers, they also offer certain benefits. ICT can improve training by providing access to better educational resources; breaking the traditional isolation of teachers; and enabling  individualized training opportunities.

E-learning provides a way for teachers to gain new knowledge and skills. ICT also facilitate the new paradigm in teacher training that is emerging. Teacher training now involves a continuum of learning, from pre-service training, to in-service workshops and short courses; and to ongoing lifelong professional development.

In "Teacher Professional Development in the Use of Technology", Sam Carlson and Cheick T Gadio list the following as being fundamental components in any professional development for technology programme:

  • Direct connection to student learning. The goal of teacher professional development is improved student achievement. The ICT that is used in the classroom should be relevant to student needs.
  • Hands-on technology use. This requires development of core technology competencies and skills and actual application of skills in the classroom.
  • Curriculum-specific applications. To the fullest extent possible, teachers need to see a direct link between technology and the curriculum for which they are responsible.
  • New roles for teachers, as facilitators and guides, not simply as lecturers or instructors.
  • Active participation of teachers and collegial learning.
  • Professional development as an ongoing process.


A major factor that influences whether teacher training programme are successful or not is the attitudes of the teachers. Motivation and incentives are essential.

One way to motivate teachers to take part in ICT-training programmes is to accredit the courses. Another motivating factor is linking teachers' training progress to their salary.

Teachers can also become motivated by learning about how new technological skills allow them to break their professional isolation and share everything from lesson plans to the trials of the postion with other teachers. Also, teachers can be motivated to learn about technologies if they understand how technology can boost their productivity and improve learning in their classrooms.

UNESCO realises that any educational reform of a country means little without the support of those at the heart of education, and so teachers are at the core of our programme.

Professional development can not be seen in isolation, but should be considered in the context of the broader educational reform, involving the development of supportive policy, infrastructure and curriculum.

Related Links:

 

Key Resources:

  • Technology and Teacher Education - This October-December 2002 issue of Techknowlogia is devoted to technology and teacher education. Articles discuss how to train teachers to utilise technology, what kind of technology to use when and how, case studies and articles about the effectiveness of e-learning and distance technology to train teachers.
  • Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE) - This journal from the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), covers preservice and inservice teacher education, graduate programmes in areas such as curriculum and instruction, educational administration, staff development, instructional technology and educational computing.
  • Teacher training programmes in Asia and the Pacific