If you are to help your school become ICT capable, then it is significant that you have a high level of understanding of the basic ICT concepts and good decision-making or higher order skills. Having some sort of technical knowledge is also good but not to depth of ICT teacher themselves. Yet, it is your ability to understand how students can learn with, about and through ICT that make a world of difference in accomplishing this along with being an effective communicator and conveying the right teaching strategies to your colleagues. After all, it should be your focus on student learning that steers the coordination of teaching, curriculum and resources.
For ICT coordinators professional ICT development must be ongoing and considered carefully if they are to provide teachers with an effective programme. Below is a summary of the basic strategy as outlined by UNESCO (Allen et al., 2002).
This strategy has been found to be successful in ICT integration by countries who have already initiated such strategies.
The focus in professional ICT development needs to be on teaching and learning rather than on hardware and software. Consideration of what student teachers are expected to know and do in a specific discipline is important. In addition, they would need to know how to integrate ICT successfully into the learning process so that they will become more proficient in their skills and knowledge of ICT integration.
‘Practice what you Preach’: This strategy has been named as such because it implies that ICT coordinators who provide professional ICT development for teachers must at first apply their own knowledge and skills. The strategy emphasises the point that in a profession where intrinsic knowledge and skills of a specific strategy is significant that teacher educators must first prove that they have extensively practiced what they hope to pass onto others. This way it can be assured that teachers will be receiving the help they need through an organisation that has specialised in their needs. Allen et al. (2002) suggests that a ‘just-in-time’ approach be used for teacher educators to practice specific technology tool or application to enhance their learning.
Continual professional ICT development must be a requirement for teacher educators. New technological developments means that they must not ever be seen as a static educator – someone who is not up-to-date with the latest research and developments. This is particularly of importance as what they know is taught to teachers and if this does not take place then the teachers themselves and inevitably the students being taught will be out of touch with the demands of an ICT-integrated society.
Professional ICT development is also best sometimes if it is provided to a small group of teaching staff. It may be to staff who either volunteered or have demonstrated that they have basic ICT competencies for personal use. They might even have expressed interest in using ICTs in their teaching. This process helps to establish the specific interests and needs and determines what may work best. If it works well then it provides the framework for other small groups.
The final and most important strategy, however, is to ensure that the professional ICT development is designed to meet the learning needs and skill levels of teaching staff within a department.