Features of Effective Professional Development Practices for Teachers as ICT Users

Features of Effective Professional Development Practices for Teachers as ICT Users

Fatma Kübra Çelen (Ministry of National Education, Turkey) and Süleyman Sadi Seferoglu (Hacettepe University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3383-3.ch002
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In this chapter, the purpose is to present the existing problems and suggestions for the solution of these problems by examining the current situation related to the professional development practices for developing ICT competencies of teachers. According to the results of the research, professional development practices included various problems such as lack of training content in accordance with needs and expectations, lack of quality of materials used, the necessity of the participation process, etc. Expected qualifications related to professional development programs are working with activities that support the teaching process, cooperation with colleagues, supporting theoretical knowledge with practical activities, expert support in the process of professional development, compliance with personal interests and needs. Based on the findings, the professional development programs should be structured in accordance with related criteria such as content, active learning, duration, joint participation, compliance with individual needs, colleague collaboration, and expert support.
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New educational technologies offer teachers and students many opportunities that could not be reached by previous generations. However, some teachers may not be successful in using technology in classroom activities to increase their students' achievement. On the other hand, when certain conditions are met, teachers are more likely to use appropriate technologies in their teaching processes. Supporting the use of technology by the professional development activities and ensuring continuous access to the necessary resources are considered as two important factors contributing to the adoption of technology in the teaching-learning processes. In this direction, it is emphasized that the use of technology in education should start with the teacher element, which is the user and the implementer of the technologies, rather than technology itself (Buckenmeyer, 2008).

The integration of technology into teaching-learning processes is an important trend in contemporary educational practices. On the other hand, even when teachers' use of technology is facilitated and they are willing to use technology, the use of technology that reinforces the teaching-learning processes may not be fully realized. Even if teachers have adequate equipment, rich digital teaching resources, and positive attitudes towards the use of technology in education or strong beliefs, the integration of technology in teaching-learning processes may not be applied successfully. One of the reasons for this situation is that, it is the necessity to carry out the process of using technology in accordance with the differences in learner characteristics and learning activities (Tsai & Chai, 2012). In this respect, teacher competencies are brought to the agenda in the context of the use of technology in the educational process, because teachers can design appropriate technology-based materials that can be used in teaching-learning processes when they have sufficient knowledge of technology and teaching (Chai, Koh, Lim, & Tsai, 2014).

It is important that teachers constantly update their current knowledge and skills about the use of technology in line with the developing technology. Teachers also need time to learn technology for their personal and professional development. However, factors such as the inability of teachers to devote time to learn about technology, lack of knowledge about the selection of appropriate instructional technologies and where to learn technology may adversely affect the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the teaching process (Lane & Lyle, 2011). The use of technology in teaching-learning processes is influenced by many factors related to teacher and school environment. Factors affecting the use of ICT in education are generally examined at teacher and school level. It is emphasized that various factors at teacher and school level contribute to the integration of ICT into learning process. In addition, it is pointed out that one of the important variables that predict ICT usage at both school level and teacher level is training to support ICT use competencies (Hsu & Kuan, 2013).

Barriers to ICT usage in the context of ICT use in teaching-learning processes are also addressed in the literature. The lack of in-service training, the lack of basic ICT knowledge and skills, and the lack of knowledge and skills for instructional use of ICT are some of the barriers to the use of ICT in teaching-learning processes. In particular, the lack of in-service training may be one of the most important obstacles. In this respect, providing in-service training opportunities can be considered as one of the important components necessary for the use of technology to support teaching process (Göktaş, Yıldırım, & Yıldırım, 2009). In fact, ICT use in teaching-learning processes is related to teachers' basic ICT skills. Therefore, it is important to develop ICT skills through pre-service and in-service training to encourage teachers' use of classroom technology. Teachers who are confident about the use of technology can focus more on the use of technology specific to their subject area rather than the problems related to technical skills. In addition to the basic ICT skills of a technical nature, teachers need pedagogical information on the use of technology (Chai, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

ICT: ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications such as the Internet, wireless networks, mobile phones, and other media.

ICT Use: It is the use of information and communication technologies to support, enhance and optimize the teaching-learning process.

Professional Development: Professional development can be defined as activities that improve an individual's knowledge, skills, and other personal and professional characteristics.

ICT User: Individuals who have access and utilize ICT based on their experience of using ICT systems.

Teacher Training: Trainings for the development of the use of ICT to support students' learning in the education process and to promote professional productivity of educators.

ICT Competencies: Having sufficient knowledge about technology and teaching field, to be able to design appropriate technology-based materials that can be used in teaching-learning processes.

Professional Development Practice: Practices aimed at the effective implementation of skills and strategies that improve the acquisition and transfer of knowledge within the scope of professional needs.

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