‘Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration?’ By Peggy A. Ertmer
Although this reading goes on for 7 pages (front and back!), it was a rather intriguing read once I had deciphered all the intellectual words and navigated round the numerous, unnecessary brackets interrupting the flow of text….
Ertmer discusses the problems that are arising with the integration of ICT into the classrooms and how teachers’ beliefs are affecting this amalgamation.
ICT in the Classroom
Since the digital revolution, ICT is considered an integral part of providing a high-quality education to students and has been incorporated into the syllabus content of the NSW Board of Studies. ICT is thought to promote student-centered leaning, problem-solving and social interaction which compliments a constructivist teaching style as favoured by educators today.
Schools are now required to implement the use of ICT in the classroom and the different school systems have done so at different levels. Department of Education Schools have gone as far as giving every student from Year 9 upwards their very own laptop to keep and use in class (NSW Department of Education and Training). In some schools Interactive White Boards (IWB) have been installed in classrooms, internal school portals are becoming popular and online tasks and assessments are being utilised.
I had my first immersion at a Catholic School and there were no IWB’s and the students did not have laptops in class. There was however access to school laptops at the teacher’s descression, and occasionally, the teacher used their own laptop to show a power point presentation or youtube links.
Whatever the ICT availability, most teachers lack training and therefore would use ICT at a low level due to the fact they do not have the skills or confidence to integrate ICT at a higher level. Teachers who implement more impressive technology such as spreadsheets, digital imaging, WebQuests, online tests and impressive presentations provide the students with a more constructivist classroom setting.
Teachers and their beliefs
Many teachers grew up with limited access to technology in schools and so may hold negative beliefs about their own technical capabilities in the use of ICT. Ertmer describes beliefs as being something that develops from memories, experiences, and perception on events (Ertmer, 2005).
Ertmer states that ‘beliefs are far more inflectional than knowledge’ (Ertmer, 2005), indicating that for technology to really excel in a classroom, teachers need to believe in the results it produces, and that knowledge of this is not enough. For example, a teacher may understand that producing data in a spread sheet is more presentable, but do they really believe that by extending its use and applying it to a variety of sources promotes student-centered learning? If teachers do not believe in this digital revolution then they will not be inspired to learn and experiment with implementing technology into their teaching strategies.
Beliefs can be highly personal and negative experiences with technology can cement beliefs that are hard to change. If teachers have such beliefs about technology, how can they change these to embrace the progression of ICT? When one was brought up in a school with no computers, how can they build new beliefs? Ertmer goes on to explain how teachers need to be taught about the uses and gains from technology and how it can be an aid to teaching in the classroom. By doing this they will build new memories, reassess their beliefs and develop new ones that hopefully will allow them to embrace this digital revolution.
It is true though that not all teachers lack ICT skills. The young student teachers that are entering the education system today will have many more memories and encounters with the use of ICT throughout their school life which they can apply to their teaching. It is the teachers that prefer the teacher-directed approach that need to adapt and change their beliefs if this digital change is to have its full effect in the classroom.
What can be done to help?
For teachers who fall in the Digital immigrant bracket, the concept of ICT in the classrooms can be hard to grasp as to them it is a new and foreign language that is constantly changing. How can they be expected to incorporate ICT into their classroom when they do not fully understand it, when they have been teaching for years in a way that they are comfortable with and produces results?
Ertner explains that this ICT integration needs to be done slowly so as to not pressurise the teachers into fully changing their pedagogy (Ertner, 2005). The teachers need to be shown how technology can be used to help their individual needs, and to fully realise and appreciate its use before adopting it into the classroom.
Training needs to be provided and teachers persuaded to undertake regular courses. For high-level use of technology there is a lot to learn. ‘It takes five to six years for teachers to accumulate enough expertise to use technology’ (Ertmer, 2005) so time, effort and money needs to be invested to improve teacher capabilities and promote this change.
When are teachers meant to learn all this?
Teachers lead busy lives and as mentioned above it can take a long time to acquire this knowledge. It has been suggested that teachers learn about technology, via technology, such as a WebQuest or online tutorial, which can be done during their own time at home or in school, and with an online support system to guide them.
Ertner also suggests that if given the time, teachers should learn through social interaction with other teachers, via exploration and observation in groups and frequent discussions to re-assess beliefs. This is a very constructivist approach to learning and should bring those teachers stuck in their old fashioned teaching styles to realise the benefits of constructivist learning.
This reading brought on a mixture of dread and anticipation. Why? Because I know my knowledge of technology is average and that I may be criticised for my method of teaching. However, I also know that there is a strong supportive network amongst teachers. Just from this first Semester at uni I have learnt more through discussing experiences with fellow classmates and discussing answers and approaches for assignments then I have from the teachers. I know once I’m out there I will have access to the wide range of Professional Development Programs that are out there and IT courses will be one of my highest priorities. I want to give the students I teach the best chance in learning, and if that means I need to learn new skills and implement them in my teaching strategies to promote high-level learning then I will make the time to do so.
‘The Growth of Enterprise Pedagogy: How ICT Policy is infected by Neo-liberalism’ by Dr Mark Brown
Firstly, what is neoliberalism? ‘A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth’ from the free online dictionary (the free dictionary).
Basically, Brown talks about how the ICT policy and the propaganda that technology is the way forward in learning is effecting teachers and students in schools.
One of the concerns is that technology is developing really fast and new technology devices are being produced constantly. Therefore, is it really right for schools and the government to invest in this technology when in 5 years time it is considered out of date and worthless?
The Digital Resolution has sparked a rush and panic in schools to catch up and implement ICT use in the classrooms. ICT Integration has changed significantly the classroom environment from that of a teacher-directed one to that of a more student-centered one by giving them means to learn themselves over the internet and produce their work in a format of their choice.
I was shocked when I watched the video below as the students all have their own laptop that they can use in every lesson. Rather then taking notes, they can type into their laptops. I was shocked because it is very different image from what I conceive a classroom setting should be.
Is this the right way to learn? Will they never learn how to write neatly by hand and construct essays? Are they paying attention during the lesson or playing solitaire?
There has not been conclusive research into whether students learn sufficiently from this profound use of ICT and therefore why should we experiment on the current students by enforcing this approach?
As I mentioned earlier teachers can hold a set of beliefs that are not supported by this ICT integration. ‘Learning requires hard work and discipline’ (Brown, 2005) and some believe that the use of computers can ‘dumb’ the brain and portray education as just an excuse to play games and mess around.
I agree with this. Word processor means that you know longer need to be able to write by hand or learn how to spell. My spelling mistakes are corrected automatically. On my Iphone, I don’t even have to type all the letters, predictive text provides me with the word it assumes I’m trying to write! This makes me worry….
However, there is an importance to ICT. It IS used a lot in the workforce and it IS going to progress and advance and students need to be set up for this in schools so that they are ready for jobs when they leave.
Brown does agree with Ertmer that teachers need to embrace the use of ICT in the classroom but he stresses that they should not let it overpower the lessons and their style of teaching. They should use it as a tool to assist them in the classroom, but stick to what they know works well with the students in reagards to their teaching method. After all, as long as the students come away from the lesson having learnt and retained something, that is all that matters.
It seems to me that there needs to be some consistency within the education system. How come students that go to a Department of Educatoin school have constant access to their own personal laptop, and others at some Catholic schools do not. Do those with laptops finish school with a better understanding than those who don’t or vice versa? And if this is the case then shouldn’t action and policies be set up to ensure all students are achieving the best in their education?
I think it is worth investing the money in ICT. It will require a lot of money, not just on the technology products but the regular training involved for teachers on how to use the new ICT devices and systems that are released.
I had to teach myself how to touch type and get my speed up to 60wpm in order to get a job in administration when I first came to Australia. Having never owned a laptop or even joined facebook, my IT skills were quiet inadequate. If I had been exposed to ICT more at school perhaps I would have progressed further in the work force so therefore, I am a supporter of the use of ICT in schools.
However, I am still limited with my ICT knowledge and do feel pressurised into incorporating it into my lessons. I will need to teach myself to use Finale and Cubase (the 2 main ICT programs used in Music) before I walk into a lesson and instruct my pupils to use them. After all, one of the requirements of the Institute of Teachers of NSW is that ‘teachers know their subject/content and how to teach that content to their students’ (NSW Institute of Teachers).
The images in this blog highlight the subject matter and the video included describes the NSW Department of Educations policy in regards to ICT integration in schools.
Which learning style/s does this ICT support?
The images support a visual learning style and the video supports both visual and auditory.
How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?
The images can promote a discussion from the students in particular the mouse image – why is this humorous? What is ironic about the lady being scared of the computer mouse? Is she a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?
The video clearly outlines the concept being discussed and from the use of clear images, catchy music, and quotes from other students it engages the students in the video and puts what is being said into context.
How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?
The mouse image can encourage the students to think of other ironic cartoons that they could draw to represent the topic being discussed.
The video involves students of their age, if they can star in a video, so can they. This encourages them to think how they could create a video to represent an idea of subject.
Brown, M. (2005) ‘The growth of enterprise pedagogy: How ICT policy is infected by neo-liberalism’. Australian Educational Computing, 20(2), 16-22.
Ertmer, P. A. (2005) ‘Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration?’ Educational Technology Research & Development.
NSW Department of Education and Training (2009), ‘Digital Education Revolution – NSW Policy’. Retrieved from https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/technology/computers/l4l/PD20090395.shtml
NSW Institute of Teachers ‘Professional Teaching Standards’.