Encouraging IT use in lessons: A complex task

lab_smallHave been in the process of developing some professional development programmes and resources to help in encouraging and supporting the use of technology in teaching and learning however I have came to realise quite how complex this area of education is.

Consider the factors that might impact of the use of technology within a school:

  • Availability of appropriate hardware and software including internet access and filtering
    • In IT labs or centralised areas
    • In classrooms
    • Student equipment
    • Mobile equipment
    • Availability of appropriate IT support staff
    • Teacher IT skills and IT confidence including motivation
    • Teacher pedagogy with regards using IT in teaching
    • School culture and in particular opportunities to share and discuss ideas for using ICT
    • School IT strategy
    • School vision for IT within teaching and learning
    • School budgets for equipment, time for sharing and professional development

Now I don’t believe these are the only issues.   In addition the issues are not fixed, and change with time plus they are interdependent.   Consider the availability of hardware and software;   The computer hardware ages with time and therefore becomes less usable in classrooms, which in turn leads to a reduction in teacher motivation towards the use of IT.    This reduction in motivation then gathers pace and results in a change in the school culture with regards sharing ideas and discussing IT usage in lessons.

So how do we make sure IT is used effectively in lessons?

I can’t help but think that it is up to every teacher to do the best they can with what they have; Not exactly a new perspective given we hope that teachers do this in respect of all resources at their disposal or not at their disposal as the case may be.

It is up to schools to try and provide everything else to help teachers do the best they can.   Now the key here is how do we know what teachers need.   The answer is, schools need to ask.    Schools need to enter into dialogue with teachers as to what they need and what they want.    This then needs to be aligned with whole school needs, curriculum needs and needs of external bodies including school inspectors, but it should start with the teachers.

Do all teachers in a school need the same thing?   Do the same IT tools work in all subjects, at all times for all teachers?    I would suggest not, plus would suggest that for some teachers, ICT may be an area of weakness, however their teaching may be outstanding.    Now this is not to suggest we shouldn’t use ICT in lessons, but maybe we should look more carefully at those who we wish to use it and what they want and need, as the professionals who are responsible in the classroom for the learning that takes place.    We should also look more at a varied rather than standardised ICT provision across schools, as this is more likely to meet the needs of individual or groups of teachers.

Does anyone work in such a school where a diverse range of ICT resources are provided across different groups and individuals with the school?     Or are we all working with the “schools” ICT equipment?



Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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