The Practice and Professional Development of Teachers

 

Download article (.pdf) | By OECD/CERI Secretariat | Published in Learning to Change: ICT in Schools, 2001

 

This article indicates how ICT both demands a broader view of teacher professionalism. Teachers are essential for the successful use of ICT in school learning. The teacher becomes manager of the ICT-enhanced learning environment – a creative, demanding and professionally rewarding role.

 

Moving away from the traditional individualistic and isolated methods, this article emphasises that dialogue among teachers is increasingly needed. ICT offers many possibilities to encourage such networking, which will promote the development and communication of successful learning strategies.

 

The article also discusses the critical area of teacher professional development, both initial and in-service. Increasingly, ICT is being introduced into the already-crowded programmes of initial teacher education. In the first instance, the aim is to equip beginning teachers with key ICT skills, relating to word-processing, multi-media and presentations, the Web and e-mail. More ambitiously, some systems also want beginning teachers to have addressed strategies for using ICT in their teaching.

 

For ICT to make a genuine impact on the nature of school learning, in-service professional development is necessary. As education is such a large, labour-intensive sector, the cost of ensuring this on a continuing basis for all teachers is considerable. Such investments must be made, however, as without them the strategies for effective technology integration into schools cannot succeed. Promising approaches to in-service development include providing teachers with subsidised or free ICT equipment, and the development of whole-school strategies. It may be especially fruitful when ICT is both the object of professional growth and the medium through which it is achieved. Despite a lack of incentives for participation, some programmes have enjoyed overwhelming popularity.

 

If the educational investments in ICT are to reap the rewards expected of them, this must be the focus for sustained policy action. This article concludes with the views expressed by the students in the OECD network. They are convinced of the importance of the teacher role, and the positive impact this has when the system is supportive and everything is working well. They offer remarkable examples of the power of ICT to transform the learning environment. They were clear on the importance of teacher enthusiasm and skills, and familiarity and fluency in the use of current technology, in association with skilful application of ICT within their subject expertise. It is valuable also to note their criticisms of schools and teachers when the use of ICT is not wisely planned and affected.

 

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