16 SES 09 B, Teacher Professional Development and ICT
Parallel Paper Session
At ECER 2011, by way of introductory remarks to a symposium on the uses of technology to support the professional development of teachers, the submitting author gave a summary of key findings from a review of extant literature, along with a number of issues which merited further exploration. The present paper represents an extended and updated version of that brief ‘scene-setting’ presentation, the key issues of which are described below.
Over the past decade a considerable body of literature has emerged which explores the effectiveness of continuing professional development (CPD) initiatives for developing teachers’ competence and confidence in using ICT in the classroom (e.g. Littlejohn, 2002; Pachler at al., 2010). This might be thought of as the literature of ‘CPD for ICT’, alongside which have emerged influential theoretical frameworks such as technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPaCK: Mishra & Koehler, 2006) which seek to take account of the interaction between differing elements of the learning and teaching process where technology is introduced.
There is, however, a relative dearth of empirical research which concerns the role of technology for supporting or enhancing teachers’ professional development for teachers (regardless of curriculum subject), which may be characterised as the literature of ‘ICT for CPD’. Interestingly, a considerable proportion of the literature which does exist focuses on the professional development of pre-service teachers (initial teacher education) rather than serving (continuing) practitioners. Various explanations for this state of affairs - which will be considered in the present paper - include the particular processes associated with University-based initial teacher education, the nature and status of school-focused models of professional development, and the particular characteristics of academic research and dissemination.
There are, nevertheless, a number of recurring and instructive themes which emerge from the literature, whether this be located in pre- or -in-service educational contexts. For example despite considerable variation in terms of the CPD objectives, participant group and technology, at the heart of much of the most effective and purposeful CPD is reflection on and in practice (Schön, 1983), and a range of both established and emerging technologies have the capacity to facilitate this process in various ways.
It is equally clear from the literature, however, that such reflection does not just ‘happen’, rather reflective practice is best promoted through exploring one’s own and others practice in dialogue with peers who share similar pedagogical experiences, issues or subject areas. This process appears to be most productive where more experienced practitioners provide a framework or scaffold (Wood et al., 1976) for reflection. Again, technology can play a powerful facilitative role here.
This may suggest a relationship between particular technologies and particular models of CPD. However rather than the nature of the CPD being somehow inherent in the software, it is the nature of this framework in which each technology is deployed which determines the nature and effectiveness of its CPD potential.
The present paper explores these issues with a view to both 'mapping the terrain' as it currently exists with respect to the actual and potential of various technologies for supporting CPD. It also offers a prototype framework for future research agendas.
Littlejohn, A. (2002) Improving continuing professional development in the use of ICT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 18, 166-174. Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record 108 (6), 1017-1054. Pachler, N., Preston, C., Cuthell, J., Allen, A. and Pinheiro-Torres, C. (2010) ICT CPD Landscape: Final Report. Coventry: Becta. Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith, 1983. Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 17, 89-100.
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