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Teachers' role and needs in the ICT environment

Reasons why the role of the teacher must change

There is an ongoing debate as to whether teachers are becoming redundant as a consequence of the use of ICT in Education or whether a teacherless classroom is just a myth. In fact, new educational technologies do not curb the need for teachers but they call for a redefinition of their profession.

The roles of teachers have changed and continue to change from that of instructors to that of constructors, facilitators, coaches, and creators of learning environments.

Many studies and articles have identified reasons why the role of the teacher must change, such as:

  • ICT will cause certain existing resources to become obsolete. Resources such as overhead projectors and chalkboards may no longer be necessary if all learners have access to the same networked resource on which the teacher is presenting information, especially if students are not physically in the same location.

  • ICT may make some assessment methods redundant. Online tests, for example, can provide the teacher with considerably more information than traditional multiple choice tests.

It is no longer sufficient for teachers to impart content knowledge. They must encourage higher levels of cognitive skills, promote information literacy, and nurture collaborative working practices. These new responsibilities are greatly facilitated by the use of ICTs in teaching. However, a genuine and sophisticated integration is necessary, so teacher training in this regard becomes crucial.

New ICT skills

A technically competent teacher is able to:

  • Operate computers and use basic software for word processing, spreadsheets, email, etc.
  • Evaluate and use computers and related ICT tools for instruction
  • Apply current instructional principles, research, and appropriate assessment practices to the use of ICTs
  • Evaluate educational software
  • Create effective computer-based presentations
  • Search the Internet for resources
  • Integrate ICT tools into student activities across the curriculum
  • Create multimedia content to support instruction
  • Create hypertext documents to support instruction
  • Demonstrate knowledge of ethics and equity issues related to technology
  • Keep up-to-date as far as educational technology is concerned

Training requirements

In assuming their new roles, teachers are expected to upgrade their knowledge and acquire new skills in these areas:

  • Pedagogy - Teachers need new pedagogical skills so they can take full advantage of the potential of technology to enhance the learning process. The use of questioning strategies is an essential component of developing an inquiry-based classroom where a structured discussion raises basic issues, probes beneath the surface of things, and pursues problematic areas of thought.

  • Curriculum development - Teachers must be able to develop appropriate, effective curricula that enable students to construct meaning, integrate new knowledge into their world views, and communicate understanding.

  • Full integration into curriculum – Strategies are necessary to meaningfully integrate technology into the curriculum. Technology must be considered as a learning tool, not merely treated as a subject area in itself. In particular, teachers need the skills to develop long-term strategies for using technology to support their curricula, student outcomes, and learning goals.

  • Staff development - Activities that simply provide skills in using particular software applications, for instance, have shown little impact on students' classroom learning. Ultimately, students’ success depends on teachers using technology to support sophisticated, hands-on/minds-on, multidisciplinary learning projects. These projects must be tightly linked to overall strategic goals and to content standards.

  • Support system - Teachers must have systems of support at various levels - regional, district, and school - for integrating technology and overcoming isolation as they grapple with new and unfamiliar approaches to teaching and tools for learning. They also need real-time technical support in resolving problems related to hardware, software, and networks; problems that can often interfere with or completely derail the learning of both teachers and students.