More Online Learning Opportunities and Courses that focus on teaching strategies what will make better use of ICT
A recent report on the use of ICT in the schools of NSW conducted by the Auditor-General has highlighted a number of recommendations including the need for more online professional development opportunities for regional and remote areas and especially courses that focused on teaching strategies with technology. The audit examined and assessed the use of ICT to improve teaching and learning in New South Wales and investigated whether:
- There were any key strategic opportunities to enhance the use of ICT platforms and technologies in schools;
- If teachers are integrating ICT into classroom practice successfully and;
- If the Department monitors the impact of ICT on student learning.
One of the key findings was the limited teacher professional development in the use of ICT. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is now one of the building blocks of society (Anderson & Weert, 2002). Permeating all aspects of society including education, ICT has the potential to transform the nature of education, specifically where and how the education of students will take place. However, if the benefits of ICT are to be harnessed then pre-service and in-service teachers need to have the skills and competencies (Resta, et al., 2002). The powerful tools that ICT provides are catalysts for change in that they transform the teacher-centred and text-bound classrooms into technology-rich learning environments that are predominantly student-centred. Schools need to embrace the new and emerging technologies and appropriately use them as tools for learning (Resta, et al., 2002).
By attending professional ICT development courses, teachers are able to pass on these benefits to their students. The use of ICT in the classroom can lead to increased levels of motivation, engagement and attainment with students. As a result of the use ICT, schools themselves can become more competitive as they continue to move forward into 21st century education (Davis & Carlsen, 2005). Teacher professional development in ICT provides staff with practical and immediately actionable advice on how they can change their pedagogies and build their technological skills in order to keep their training relevant and future-focused. In a fast-changing society, the term ‘lifelong learners’ will become synonymous with teachers as they will continue to be urged to undergo continuous professional development (Davis N. , 2001). As a result, teachers as modern professionals will continue to work in a learning environment as learning professionals.
Today, it is the lack of such opportunities is one of the reasons why teachers fail to incorporate technology. The New South Wales' Department admission that it provides few courses on using ICT in the classroom directly and that the majority of these are based in Sydney means that access to these professional learning opportunities is limited. It acknowledged the fact that “increasing the use of online learning would improve access for teachers”.
It is important to emphasise the connection between ICT and society. The increasing presence of ICT in society inevitably means that we live in a knowledge society. Here, information is mass produced, and workers of any profession are urged to attend professional development courses. The rapid change of ICT and its presence in schools means that teachers will need to stay on top of their training. Senior staff need to become aware of such courses so that they can inform others of the benefits it may bring to them and their school. In an ICT integrated society, “teachers are key and effective professional development is the crucial element” (Triggs & Sutherland, 2009, p. 6). Learning can only be enhanced with ICT when teachers “analyse and understand the potentialities of different ICT tools as they relate to the practices and purposes of their subject teaching, and when these tools are deployed appropriately for their students” (Triggs & Sutherland, 2009, p. 6).
Why learn with us?
Firstly, the professional development for teachers in ICT that we provide addresses the very centre of this audit report by delivering advice on the best teaching strategies to make better use of ICT in your classroom. We have done the leg work for you and studied research on the most ICT capable classrooms and schools (Kennewell et al., 2000).
Another point that was emphasised in the audit report was the need for more online professional development opportunities. All our courses are online and accessible to teachers not just in Sydney but to Regional and Rural areas of New South Wales and around the nation.
It is requirement of the Australian Curriculum that teachers are able to Teach and Assess general capabilities such as ICT Capability. We deliver practical and immediately actionable advice to teachers on how they can do exactly that. They address the subscription standards 2.6.2 and 3.4.2 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. The current online courses available include the following:
- Primary Classroom Strategies: Develop Student ICT Capability Today
- Primary Classroom Strategies: Assess Student ICT Capability Today;
- The Primary ICT Coordinator's Guide to Leadership;
- Run an effective Inservice PD in ICT.
In every course, teachers have the chance to have a collective discussion with other teachers and collaborate on ideas, there are active learning opportunities when teachers engage in reflection and, as all courses are self-paced it allows the teacher to practice strategies as they work through the course. Most importantly, there is coherence as they are able to make direct links between their school’s ICT goals and the online course content.
However, professional learning for teachers does not end here. Online learning is great for teacher’s continual professional development and our website contains articles and teacher resources that continue to focus on the strategies that will help teachers make better use of technology and teach and assess student ICT capability. They can also subscribe to our newsletter and receive monthly emails on the latest advice.
Today the message is becoming clear to educators that an ICT-integrated society needs workers who have the skills and knowledge to use ICT effectively and efficiently in their lives – otherwise known as knowledge workers. The Auditor-General’s report on the use of ICT in schools around New South Wales highlights the need for the Department to take action sooner than later. Despite this, teachers themselves need to be more active in seeking out online opportunities and take the lead in being a catalyst for change at their schools. As funding for professional development opportunities increasingly becomes a threat to effective teacher education in ICT integration, action by teachers may just appear to be the solution. So start learning now.