Literacy development is of prime importance in the primary classroom today. ICT (Information and Communications Technology) stands in interesting relation to literacy, as one of its most important contributions is that of helping teachers provide students with resources that allow them to focus on specific learning objectives.
It has the potential to provide effective support to teaching and learning throughout the curriculum. However, without effective in-service training and leadership in ICT the talents of teachers will not be exploited enough and the quality of students’ work when using computers or other ICT will have a negative impact on literacy learning.
It is of interest for you to know that ICT does open up further dimensions of literacy and that research has proven that there are direct links between the extent of how effective ICT has been used in literacy lessons and the level of teacher’s personal capabilities in ICT.
Research (Kennewell et al., 2000) has highlighted that where teachers have felt that their ICT capability was lacking, that in most cases, there was a haphazard development in student ICT skills.
The most important judgement about the worth of your school will be the changes it brings about in its students over time. Therefore, the levels of student attainment in both literacy learning and ICT capability will play a crucial role to your school’s educational offerings.
Primary ICT coordinators, for this reason, are one of the most influential professionals in schools. With the Australian Curriculum emphasising significant progression in student ICT capability occurring within the primary education realm, if their leadership is effective they have a significant opportunity to improve literacy learning in schools.
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ICT is a powerful tool for literacy learning in the classroom and thus enables educational leaders in ICT with a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on the use of ICT by encouraging teachers to teach ICT capability alongside literacy development.
They can work together with other curriculum leaders to ensure that ICT is implemented effectively to continue literacy development throughout the whole school. However, if curriculum leaders themselves are not trained sufficiently enough then they can’t give a positive lead in the use of ICT in their curriculum.
By providing whole-school in-service days in ICT, primary ICT coordinators can steer the school to ICT greatness whilst significantly enhancing the learning of literacy in the classroom. The continuous use of ICT to improve student literacy work by drafting and re-drafting provides excellent opportunities for the development of these 21st century skills.
Teacher Capabilities in Literacy Learning
Teaching and learning with ICT in literacy lessons can be very beneficial as its use enhances learning and provides students with resources that allow them to focus on the specific learning objectives for a lesson and avoid getting bogged down in issues.
However, twenty years on and studies are still finding that the successful integration of ICT in English/literacy lessons depends on a large extent on the teacher’s own ICT literacy. The most effective lesson that supported the development of literacy through the use of ICT made effective of the provisionality inherent in ICT.
There have five different types of teacher challenges identified in studies (Tinio, 2002) that have contributed to the lack of ICT in literacy learning.
- The teacher’s skills in the actual use of ICT in teaching,
- The ICT resources,
- The perceived attitude of the teacher’s towards the use of ICT in teaching,
- The technical support and needs and;
- Staff development towards ICT use.
Studies have also indicated that the teacher’s lack of expertise in using ICT hinders teacher’s confidence in using it.
So what can you do about it? ICT literacy in education is just as important for teachers as it is for students using ICT to achieve other learning outcomes. The key benefits of ICT literacy in education include:
- Improves motivation and engagement in learning.
- Provides tools for all purposes.
- Aids students with special needs.
- Increases economic competitiveness.
- Increases educational attainment levels.
- Increases access to education.
- ICT is a catalyst for educational renewal.
Other recommendations also include ICT leaders and school administrators who can incorporate a larger school-wide ICT development plan to ensure the coherence of ICT implementation in the language teaching-learning activities.
Literacy learning and leadership in ICT in school education can play a big role in ensuring ICT literacy in education is achieved, but only if teachers are provided with effective literacy workshops for primary teachers that embody literacy with ICT teaching strategies.
The Role and the Need for ICT Leadership in School Education
As the integrating of technology in the classroom continues to grip the education sector, ICT leaders in school education like ICT coordinators play a key role in in ensuring that primary teachers in particular, are equipped to develop ICT capable students that prepared for an ICT-integrated society.
To be a good ICT coordinator, you need to have such qualities like having credibility as a successful technology integrator in the classroom and exhibit a positive and supportive attitude towards colleagues just to name a few. This is one of the most important factors of their work. The lead by example method is crucial for teachers to be able to understand the impact that technology has on subject learning along with the development of ICT capability. Of course, it could not be possible without having effective personal leadership skills.
The role of the primary teacher is at the very heart of the development of ICT capability through the effective integration of technology in the classroom. This is because they need to be covering all aspects of a child’s development and they focus on the child as a whole. Your role as the ICT coordinator, therefore, is vital as primary teachers cannot possibly be an expert in every aspect of the curriculum.
Your role as the ICT coordinator is to be there to help them and guide them and it is a unique role too. Most likely, a large part of your role would therefore involve inservice training for teachers in technology integration strategies along with coordinating the teaching and learning with ICT in the classroom.
Changing Perceptions with PD
Embedding ICT literacy in education and throughout the curriculum is a crucial part of 21st century learning in the classroom. However, a key part of this solely relies upon that of a teacher’s ability to be ICT literacy or ICT capable.
The importance of ICT in education plays to the ability of schools and teachers to prepare students for an ICT integrated society by ensuring that ICT becoming transparent in its use when learning outcomes are being achieved and that student ICT capability is attained and ICT literacy in education is recognised as the key skills for 21st century learning.
There are a range of benefits of embedding ICT literacy in the education that include:
- Providing a wide range of ICT tools to use in the classroom;
- Aiding students with special needs;
- Personalised learning experiences;
- Improves communication between schools and the broader community;
- Promotes active learning
- Develops higher order thinking skills (only when the right software is integrated) and;
- Allows students to collaborate together in learning activities.
Your ICT literacy as a teacher enables you to promote ICT literacy in education in a meaningful and context-driven way. It would be affected by key issues such as:
- Operational understanding and application of ICT;
- ICT teaching strategies for primary school and learning environments;
- ICT for professional learning and engagement and;
- The social ecology of living and learning with ICT.
Research has also said that the age of a teacher may also have an impact on your ICT literacy. For example, if you are between 35 and 39 you are seen as being more competent than your colleagues.
What does this mean?
The need for professional development opportunities for teachers that promote the instructional decision-making related towards employing evidence based ICT teaching strategies is essential in changing the perceptions of teachers when using technology in the classroom.
Leadership Course for Teachers Online
As an effective ICT coordinator, you have the opportunity to improve the attainment of student ICT capability in primary schools. There are many things expected of you, however, by joining other educational ICT leaders and like-minded teachers in our NESA and TQI accredited online courses, you will be able to:
- Analyse the situation and define your role as a leader.
- Understand your role and how to improve.
- Conduct a school audit.
- Strategically plan the school’s ICT vision.
- Empower your colleagues for change.
- Generate a plan of action for the effective integration of technology in the classroom.
- Promote pedagogies in ICT.
- Measure whole school attainment levels.
- Enable a safe online and digital learning environment.
Completing this leadership course for teachers will contribute to 5 hours of NESA and TQI PD addressing 2.6.3 and 3.4.3 of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining High Accomplished Teacher accreditation in NSW, Vic and Qld.
Cost: $200 per person