One of the greatest problems facing teachers, particularly primary school teachers, is planning ICT activities that can help children develop their ICT capabilities. The development of ICT capability is significant for several reasons -1. Children live in an ICT-dominated society and therefore, need to become proficient users in ICT; 2. Current curricula including the Australian one embed opportunities throughout Learning Areas to do so and; 3. Effective planning for using ICT in teaching and learning can ensure that all children have access to a broad and balanced curriculum.
So it will be important for you to consider how ICT can be used effectively in the planning process in addition to what factors you need to consider to use ICT effectively.
The key principles you need to remember when you plan for using ICT for teaching include:
- Have high expectations – this means knowing where the students are up to in the first place;
- You need to have a secure knowledge and understanding of your subject and relevant pedagogies;
- You need plan to develop every component of ICT capability;
- Use a range of evidence-based ICT teaching strategies;
- Plan for a safe and purposeful learning environment;
- Ensure that other adult helpers in the classroom are briefed.
What do you need to consider when you plan for using ICT for teaching and learning?
Here are some things for you to consider when you want to plan for using ICT for teaching and learning in your classroom.
Have you conducted a thorough analysis of the situation?
Effective teaching depends on effective planning and this in turn, relies heavily on you conducting a thorough analysis of the situation.
For there to be an optimal lesson with ICT you need to have clear learning goals, provide a supportive social context for learning, enable students to engage in the learning process in a number of different ways, help students contextualise the content in terms of their own experience and knowledge, and be willing to modify learning tasks in the light of student circumstances.
Understand how students learn with ICT
Before you even begin to plan on using ICT for teaching, it is vital that you understand how your students learn with ICT. You must learn how to match the ICT resource to the intended learning and how ICT relates to other key skills.
Decide on the role you want ICT to play in the activity
Do you want the students to use the ICT in the activity to develop their ICT capability, to support learning in another area of the curriculum or both? Ultimately, you should aim to have the students use ICT to support the subject context learning whilst remaining transparent in the background and developing their ICT capability.
Reflect on the impact of learning styles in education and the role of ICT within them
The main problem is not only the abundance of models, but also the competing benefits of successful use. ICT has the capability to provide high quality visual and auditory materials, however, the justification for their use should not just be that they match a single learning style.
Are there opportunities for you to assess children’s ICT competence?
Good planning should create assessment opportunities because good assessment informs good planning.
Use a range of further questioning to consider things such as the knowing about children’s existing knowledge, cross-curricular links, and any constraints on yourself when planning to use ICT etc.
Case Study: Planning for the assessment of ICT capability
Let me tell you about one of my students last month. Amanda Thompson is a primary teacher in New South Wales who always saw herself as a competent user in ICT. In her classroom, students would have authentic opportunities to enhance their learning with ICT such as literacy blocks with individual reading and comprehensions activities. She would typically assess their capabilities in ICT by their ability to evaluate, select and use, and reflect on the software they would use in an ICT activity.
One day she was working with a number of staff who had varying experience in ICT and the discussion came up about having consistent teacher judgement in student ICT capability. For some time this discussion continued with no one coming to an agreement.
Shared professional understanding about having consistent teacher judgement is of a major interest in relation to the curriculum and standards frameworks in the Australian school system. It ensures a commitment by teachers towards improving student learning outcomes.
When teachers at a school like Amanda’s Leumeah Public School, are consistent in their judgements this can lead to a whole school improvement in student outcomes. Student ICT capability assessment is, however, one of the least well-understood subjects.
Effective strategies for this to occur would involve Amanda’s colleagues planning collaboratively, using a common assessment task and sharing understanding of the core learning outcomes.
Teachers need to be well informed about these teaching strategies and this was Amanda’s problem. When asked what her opinion was about student ICT capability she “didn’t feel comfortable” discussing the topic without having the research-based knowledge to support her.
She decided to arm herself with knowledge which gave her the facts to present to her colleagues. She enrolled in an accredited online course about Assessing Student ICT capability. The course helped her “unpack what ICT capability” is and taught her the importance of having clear outcomes established in her teaching plans.
Amanda has since then shared her knowledge about ICT capability with her colleagues.
I think what I have learnt from this story was the vital importance of having consistent teacher judgement at the school. This can only come when teachers are informed correctly and Amanda took it into her own hands as to improve her professional learning. It also showed me how much of a problem it is today. The fact that there no agreement amongst Amanda’s colleagues and even she did not fully understand and feel comfortable about the topic meant that it is a concern among teachers today.
That’s why I think you should invest some time in continuing your professional learning too. Arming yourself with key knowledge and skills would help you achieve your students’ learning outcomes and you wouldn’t feel the way that Amanda did in her staff room. Don’t be left out of the conversation simply because you don’t understand what your colleagues are discussing. Enrolling in an accredited online course like the one Amanda did will too also help you “unpack what ICT capability” is.
Completing this online course will contribute to 5 hours of NESA registered PD addressing 2.6.2 and 5.1.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient teacher accreditation in NSW and Victoria