In this article the factors involved in the uptake of ICT by the teachers and the schools are examined. The focus of our argumentation is that teachers constitute a critical factor in the attempt to integrate technology in the classroom but they are not appropriately prepared for that undertaking. An extensive review of the literature associated with teachers’ views and perceptions of ICT in education is presented. Finally, we conclude debating on the demand of a new curriculum and a new pedagogical framework, both based on and enhanced by the new environments and tolls ICT offer in education.
We live in the information age, at a time that information and communications technologies (ICT) permeate all aspects of our social activities (administration, business, industry, research, entertainment, culture, etc.) and radically influence our lives. ICT has been widely welcomed as having the potential to enhance learning by offering a variety of learning environments for the students and the adults as well. Educational systems around the world are under increasing pressure to use ICT in order to teach students the knowledge and skills needed for their future directions in the 21st century’s knowledge society.
During the last decade, in most developed countries, a large number of educational initiatives have been directed towards ICT integration in the schools. In general, the approaches tried have been focused on
The development of technology infrastructure in the schools
The infusion of appropriate educational software in the schools
The preparation of the teachers in order to adopt ICT as a tool efficient to enhance instruction and learning.
Even though educational policy directives have articulated clear and unambiguous statements about encouraging the use of ICT in the schools, the application of ICT in educational settings is rather peripheral acting, in most cases, as an “add on” effect to regular classroom work. Despite that home access to ICT has been growing rapidly, both for students and teachers, and ICT resources in the schools (computer labs, educational software disposal, connection with the Internet, etc.) have improved substantially over the last years, teachers do not appear to make effective use of ICT in their instruction (Becta, 2004a; Cuban, 2001; Russel, Bebell, O’Dwyer, & O’Connor, 2003; Waite, 2004). The outcomes of the initiatives concerning ICT in education are more evident in pupils’ achievement in ICT capability than in applying their skills and knowledge to other subjects across the curriculum (OFSTED, 2004). On the other hand, it seems that individual attitudes and skill levels still remain an obstacle for the teachers to adopt ICT and make effective use of ICT in their instruction (Becta 2004a, Dexter, Anderson, & Becker, 1999; Lang, 2000).
Designing and implementing successful ICT preparation programmes for the teachers is considered to be the key factor to fundamental, wide-ranging educational reforms (Davis, 2003; Pearson, 2003; Unesco, 2002; Vosniadou & Kollias 2001; Watson, 2001). During the last years, initiatives directed to searching for efficient ways to prepare teachers to integrate ICT in their everyday instructional strategies have been of major priority in several countries across the world (Becta, 2004b; Dexter & Riedel, 2003; Hennesy, Ruthven, & Brindley, 2005; Knezek & Christensen, 2002; Lang, 2000; Niemi, 2003). Various programs have been implemented aiming at enhancing teachers’ skills toward the pedagogical application of ICT as a tool to support instruction and learning (EC, 2002; 2004; ICTL, 2004; OFSTED, 2002; PT3, 1999; TTICTE, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
ICT Integration: The integration of ICT in the school practice has not to do with simple improvements of the traditional instruction but to a radically new pedagogy; shift from the traditional instruction model of knowledge transmitting towards autonomous, active, and collaborative learning through students’ engagement in ICT-based learning environments and shared learning resources.
ICT Pedagogy: The effective integration of ICT alongside the curriculum is associated with a new pedagogy which changes the role of the teachers and increases students’ control of their learning, self-regulation, and collaboration. This presupposes a shift from traditional lesson formats, based on transmitting information philosophies, towards student-centred approaches that promote active engagement, help them to control their learning, and support collaborative learning and meaningful understanding.
ICT in Education: This term refers to the various aspects of computes, networks (including the Internet), software and other environments that act as a tool for teachers and students by supporting learning and instruction. ICT implementation in education is a complex and multifaceted process and, till now, many difficulties encountered to integrate ICT in the school practices.
ICT Adoption Factors: The factors affecting teachers’ perceptions of ICT in education are divided into four categories: personal factors, technical barriers, school factors, and pedagogical factors.
Teachers’ Attitudes: Teachers’ attitudes toward ICT constitute a multidimensional variable. In general, attitudes toward ICT incorporate self-efficacy, confidence, and ability of using ICT, beliefs, ideas, and perceptions of the many aspects that ICT brings education.