Professional ITCE Development for Teachers
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 reaped in education 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).
The Australian government has now recognised ICT, its basic skills and concepts as a core part of education by making it a curricula requirement to integrate ICT into teaching and learning. To add to this, the increasing rate of technological advancements and developments will continually make it essential and extremely challenging for teachers to keep up-to-date (Reading & Doyle, 2013).
With ICTs being rolled out to schools across the country - $900 million worth (Queensland Government Department of Education, Training and the Arts, 2015) - and the continued emphasis on integrating ICT into teaching and learning, it is important to understand the role of continual professional ITCE development. Education authorities have internationally recognised that having the technology without the continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers is simply an inefficient use of the resource. It is imperative, therefore, that schools invest in teacher training as new technology emerges, and the pedagogies change (Bennett et al., 2007; Triggs & Sutherland, 2009).
The significance of professional ITCE development for teachers is equally important to the well-being of the student. It is through the opportunities provided in the CPD that teachers will learn effective and efficient strategies to integrate technology into their classrooms. The lack of such opportunities is now perceived as one of the reasons why teachers fail to integrate technology. One of the factors present that inhibit these changes occurring is the fear of teachers inappropriately using technology in their lessons that in turn can have a negative impact on student learning (Sutherland & Sutch, 2009).
Teachers can use the professional ITCE development to help them change their pedagogies and to 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, 2001). As a result, teachers as modern professionals will continue to work in a learning environment as learning professionals.
Finally, 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 opportunities. This is no different for teachers and is especially significant for them as they are preparing future workers. The rapid change of ICT and its presence in schools means that teachers will need to stay on top of their training, and senior staff have to ensure that opportunities are continually presented to them. 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).