If technology has a key role to play in the future of school learning, how big a part should it play in Initial Teacher Education?
Today in East Lothian this year’s probationers, as part of their induction, attended a short session where they were introduced to some of the on-line tools they might encounter in our schools, and that they’d be able to use to support their teaching. During the session, of 75 minutes, we mainly covered Glow and the www.edubuzz.org blogs, with a brief mention of edubuzz Google Apps at the end. (The day also included a session on internet safety from Ollie Bray.)
Those of us involved in presenting the sessions couldn’t help but be struck by the low level of awareness amongst the groups of some of the opportunities now presented by these technologies. Many of the new teachers were clearly surprised that it was as easy to publish to a blog as to send an email, for example. Very few had any idea what Glow offered. In most groups, none were aware of Google Documents and its collaboration possibilities. This wasn’t due to lack of interest or enthusiasm; they just simply hadn’t encountered these tools before, and many soon had great ideas for using them to support their teaching.
If, though, we now know that technology has huge potential to improve learning through, for example, improved personalisation and engagement, it becomes important that new teachers know how to integrate technology in their teaching.
This diagram (source http://tpack.org) shows a current framework which is gaining ground as a way to think about the kinds of skills teachers need to have. In 1987, Shulman¹ developed the idea that teachers needed not just content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge, but specific knowledge (pedagogical content knowledge) of teaching approaches suited to the content.
Now that idea has been developed by Mishra and Koehler into the TPACK model shown. That model, though, suggests that technological knowledge – in particular, in the context of content and pedagogy – is now a key part of the skills mix.
If that’s the case, perhaps courses offered to new teachers could be improved by including not more technology for its own sake, but as a context for learning how it might best be used to support particular pedagogical approaches to teaching particular content?
1. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.