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A shift in pedagogy and integrating ICT into education

A radical shift in pedagogy is necessary for ICT to enhance teaching and learning. This article examines the required shift in pedagogy, and seeks to begin to define which pedagogical models really work.

December 2004

New pedagogy
According to some schools of thought, there are two types of pedagogy, namely instruction and construction. The former approach is the traditional method, while the latter refers to a way of teaching that demands a redefinition of the traditional teacher-student relationship.

The use of ICT can contribute to a movement towards constructive teaching approaches, and constructive teaching processes can lead to greater use of ICT in education.

  Instruction Construction
Classroom Activity Teacher centred
Learner centred
Teacher Role Fact teller
Always expert
Sometimes expert
Student role Listener
Always learner
Sometimes expert
Instructional emphasis Facts
Inquiry and Invention
Concept of knowledge Accumulation of facts Transformation of facts
Demonstration of success Quantity Quality of understanding
Assessment Norm referenced
Multiple-choice items
Criterion referenced
Technology use Drill and practice Communication, collaboration,
information access, expression

Pedagogical development

How do teachers move from the instruction to the construction approach? The UNESCO publication ICT in Teacher Education: A Planning Guide found that teachers move through stages as they adopt ICT. Initially, the teacher adopting technology applies it simply as a substitute for current teaching practice where technology is not used (for example, teachers' lectures are supported by electronic presentation tools; students writing papers by hand begin writing papers using a word processor; and a course syllabus on paper becomes course syllabus online.

As teachers’ experience with new technologies continues to develop, and organizational support and access to ICT grows, it becomes possible to move beyond the adaptation of ICT applications. Transformation of the educational process starts to occur. Because of the nature of modern forms of ICT, the use of ICT in classrooms can lead to a shift towards more learner-centred approaches.

Importance of self-assessment and networking

In the paper Developing Research Models for ICT-Based Pedagogy, Steve Kennewell from the University of Wales Swansea asserts that:

Rather than establishing that the use of ICT is intrinsically better than other methods of teaching, we should focus on demonstrating progressively improved use of ICT and establishing how best resources should be allocated and teachers educated in order to replicate success. This will be achieved, not by large scale projects requiring significant levels of funding, but rather by large numbers of individual teachers researching their own practice. Their findings will be disseminated through the networking of practitioners using a system which affords classroom-based enquiry, the sharing of ideas, and reflection on practice and learning.

The bigger picture

In ICT in Schools Research and Evaluation Series – No.18, ICT and pedagogy, Margaret Cox et al note how pedagogy of ICT should be understood within a broader framework of educational practice. What is observed in the classroom is only part of this practice. Thus, illuminating good practice in teaching and learning with ICT will require examining teachers’ ideas, values, beliefs, and the thinking that leads to observable elements in practice.

Primary school study

Such an examination as suggested by Ms.Cox, is provided by Moseley et al.(1999), in a study of primary school teachers known to be achieving either average or above average gains on measures of relative attainment by pupils, that focused on pedagogy using ICT. Observations showed that the most successful teachers were those who used examples and counter-examples and involved pupils in explaining and modelling to the class. Teachers who favoured ICT were likely to have well-developed ICT skills and to see ICT as an important tool for learning and instruction. They were also likely to value collaborative working, enquiry and decision making by pupils.

Teachers’ pedagogical approaches are in turn affected by a number of key factors. First, they are affected by knowledge about their own subject. There is a clear distinction between teachers who choose ICT resources to fit within a particular topic and those who choose resources merely to present pupils’ work in a new way, without any direct application to the topic. The evidence shows that when teachers use their knowledge both of the subject and also of how pupils understand the subject, their use of ICT has a more direct effect on pupils’ attainment.

On the basis of the research evidence and the case studies conducted for this study, there appear to be three main approaches to ICT taken by teachers:

  1. Integrated approach: planning the use of ICT within the subject to enhance particular concepts and skills and improve pupils’ attainment. This involves a careful and considered review of the curriculum area, selecting the appropriate ICT resource which will contribute to the aims and objectives of the curriculum and scheme of work, and then integrating that use in relevant lessons.
  2. Enhancement approach: planning the use of an ICT resource which will enhance the existing topic through some aspect of the lessons and tasks. For example, using an electronic whiteboard for presenting theory about a topic. In this approach, the teacher plans to complement the lesson with an innovative presentation method to promote class discussion and the visualisation of problems.
  3. Complementary approach: using an ICT resource to empower the pupils’ learning, for example by enabling them to improve their class work by taking notes on the computer, or by sending homework by email to the teacher from home, or by word processing their homework.

All three approaches can enhance attainment, but the effects may be different. In the integrated approach, pupils’ learning is enhanced because they are confronted with challenges to their existing knowledge and given deeper insights into the subject being studied. The enhancement approach could improve pupils’ learning through presenting knowledge in new ways, promoting debates among pupils, and encouraging them to formulate their own explanations. The complementary approach draws on the approach that suggests that learning can be enhanced by reducing the mundane and repetitive aspects of tasks such as writing essays and homework by hand, freeing the learner to focus on more challenging and subject-focused tasks (see Kemmis et al., 1977).

These different types of use require the teacher to have an extensive knowledge of ICT and to be able to fit its use either into their existing pedagogy or to extend their pedagogical knowledge so they can accommodate ICT effectively in their teaching.

What should teachers do?
The overall conclusion from the research literature studied in ICT in Schools Research and Evaluation Series – No.18, ICT and pedagogy is that ICT is used effectively and has an impact on learning where teachers are able to appreciate that interactivity requires a new approach to pedagogy. Teachers need to employ proactive and responsive strategies in order to support, guide and facilitate learning. They need to monitor progress and maintain a focus on subject learning, by structuring activities carefully and providing focused tasks. It may be that there is a fundamental misunderstanding held by many teachers and teacher trainers – teachers who have insufficient knowledge of the contribution which ICT can make to pupils’ learning can assume that the main tasks are to familiarise themselves with the software, prepare a worksheet for pupils to show how to operate the program, and then use the program in their lesson. But a major part of effective use of ICT lies in the planning, preparation and follow-up of lessons, and in particular the pedagogical thinking that links teaching style, the selection of resources, the activities and the learning objectives.

It is clear from this research that in order for the majority of teachers to extend their range of uses of ICT substantially, they need significant time to develop their pedagogy as well as their ICT skills. Given the limitations on resources and the demands on teachers’ time, this may be difficult to achieve in the foreseeable future. An alternative approach might be to encourage teachers to focus only on those ICT resources which are most relevant to them and their subject.

Further information:

  • UNESCO ICT in Education Teacher Training theme