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Is Teacher Training the Solution to Better ICT Usage in Education?

Wayan Vota

We all know that the current state of ICT usage in education is sub-par. We’ve just had a month’s worth of debate on ICT use in schools with much of it centered on one reoccurring theme: most ICT investments in education are wasted.

I think Sam Carlson expressed the best reason why this is happening during the Live Debate in India, where he successfully argued that There is Enormous Wastage in the Implementation of Education Technology for Schools:

The basic problem is that teachers are not given the incentives, the time, the encouragement, the opportunity to take advantage of the educational technology, which is made available to them.

And if the teachers are not given the incentives, the time and the opportunities in order to take advantage of this then the technology investment in the computers and the internet content activity, and the building of the computer lab and putting in the electricity and all of those activities will be wasted.

So if teachers are the key to getting better educational outcomes from our ICT investments, the first and most obvious way to support them is better teacher training on the use of ICT in the classroom. But is that really the answer? Do teachers really need more training? And if so, how should that training differ from existing training to get a better result?

For this month’s Educational Technology Debate, we’ll look at the state of teacher training and how changing or improving it could have a positive impact on the educational outcomes from the use of ICT in educational systems of the developing world. Please join us for what promises to be a lively conversation.

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15 Responses to “Is Teacher Training the Solution to Better ICT Usage in Education?”

  1. Christine Capota

    There's no doubt that teacher training is one of the most essential elements of a successful educational technology initiative. But tinkering with a computer for a few hours after school won't do much. Too often teacher training is either a one-time-only event, or focused only on how to use specific hardware/software. Technological literacy is indeed critical, and affects teachers' beliefs and attitudes, which in turn affects how and whether they will use technology in their classrooms. However, technological literacy is not enough — teacher training should be more about pedagogy, and how to incorporate technology into classrooms/curricula in a meaningful way. Even in OECD countries, were many teachers are very fluent with technological tools, training and support surrounding how to integrate technology into education are paramount. Technology should be transformative and fundamentally change the way in which we learn and teach; too often it is used to perpetuate old ways of teaching and learning (frankly, things that can be done with pencil and paper for much cheaper). So in sum, meaningful teacher training is part of where the solution lies. It needs to be ongoing and integrated. On a side note, training school administrators is also important; an unsupportive administration can stifle an excellent and well-trained teacher.

  2. I found Dr. Laura Hosman's work on this issue to be very rich and informative.
    Here is her blog post which contains the presentation she gave with Maja Cvetanoska (of AED) on teacher training & ICT4E in Macedonia, scroll halfway down the page for the ppt link:

  3. Depends on what you mean by teacher training. Continuing professional development that samples teachers work and provides on-going feedback is more likely to be effective than traditional training sessions isolated from classroom practice.

    • j Tim Denny

      Christina mentions that teacher training is often a "one-time-only event", Ian aptly points out that professional development must include on going feedback. These issues are very bothering in terms of developing country ODA assisted projects that I have seen. Often the experts come in to deliver a predicted need in the form of a workshop, while the workshop may rate highly and bring fun to all who attend, down the line it remains doubtful that an impact comes about as Ian puts it ongoing feedback needs to occur. Here I think we need to inculcate a set of competency standards linked to teacher training that map out what we expect of teachers and at what indicator level. Plenty of work has been done on building such competency standards so we can easily turn to them. I like the ISTE NETS standards http://www.iste.org/standards.aspx as they are clear and easy to follow, UNESCO has also done a fine job of creating standards but they seem to be more bulky are complex in my opinion. anyhow, the point being, lets look into the standards already produced and teach to the competencies to ensure quality assurance in the training we do. On the issue of increasing effectiveness of training, we can ensure that one of the standards we teach to is to build collaborative skills. Teachers should be masters at collaborating and what better tools than ICT in the form of email, web boards and associated Web 2.0 tools to inculcate better collaborative capabilities. hopefully in the future we can reduce the errors of big budgets being spent on cascading model training that turns out to be a one and done with little to no follow-up, lacking in focus on standards and sketchy in terms of sustainable impact.

  4. Obviously, having a teacher available is best. We all know that it is also best to have on teacher serving fewer students. However, the reality in many countries is that there simply are not enough teachers. Many countries have a disproportionate child to adult ratio. This is particularly true for countries that have been devastated by war or disease such as HIV. Cambodia is an example of a country where nearly an entire generation of educated adults was wiped out.

    Many countries have trouble finding enough educated people or simply can not offer wages sufficient to attract educated people into teacher. In these cases, technology offers the potential to become a force multiplier for education.

    From my experience, computers are rarely properly used to this purpose but the tools are clearly available to make useful courseware available to students.

    Self-learning and computing can be married to create a very effective way to provide motivated students the ability to move beyond the classroom experience. Long distance learning can allow teachers from urban areas to reach out to students in rural areas. Tools such as Moodle allow for the distribution of classroom material to be widely distributed.

  5. Reem N Bsaiso

    It is feasible to train teachers; I witnessed a classroom in a Jordanian desert area where ten graders girls have designed their own portal and discussion forums, using free online resources.

    This has been the result of training teachers on how to effectively utilize ICT in the classroom, with upper order skills, within a 1000 teachers training with 200,000 student reach sustainable and scalable scheme.

    Many think that ICT is the total answer, but it's not. It is a powerful tool, nonetheless, if not harnessed and used properly, it will not render positive results. ICT comes as an integrated powerful tool and resource, within a larger class-room based strategies and lesson plans, supporting student centric solutions, interactivity, and projects based learning. Even a very specialized teacher in any subject matter, will not be able to run a modernized classroom properly, and change the classroom dynamics, if not well trained. In some developing countries, changing the behavior of the teachers to become facilitators rather than instructors, and render interactive students rather than mere recipients, is not an easy task, and needs specialized techniques and methodologies over a period of time.

  6. Reem N Bsaiso

    I forgot to add, that it is possible to apply scalable schemes able to reach about 100 million students over few years, at a cost of 1 dollar per students, during year one, dropping down as program is scaled up.

    Attending many global summits, I also noticed that there are great experiences and success stories in say school organization, or content, or ICT infrastructure, but I also noticed that the real success does not happen unless all those ingredients, or call the enabling ICT environment is there. Many countries also go overboard with the infrastructure – which is great if it can be afforded but merging ICT in education can be done using very modest resources and give astounding results, versus over-spending and getting disappointed at the end for lack of 'visible' results. It's not just about the technology, it's all about the applications.

  7. If we don't employ Learning Management Systems in Schools and other institutions, we'll be leaving out a very crucial tool in the education system. In these times of technological advancement, let's have interactive learning, and employ usage of ICT in education. It will be a win – win situation for both the teachers and students. This will benefit all the stakeholders in the long run. Let's advocate for efficient systems that improve our learning process.

  8. Yes, teaching and empowering the teachers will be the first and foremost step before any attempt into ICT in mass education.

    Currently we are deploying and empowering teachers in Nigeria for up to 18,000 teachers to be trained on contents development with our very low cost tools that comes with CMS and ready contents.

    WE are able fully equip a teacher with netbook, Solar power, Wins XP, authoring tools, CMS ..all in for under US300.

    For that we have fully digital teacher. That is really low cost indeed.

    Btw, anyone from Indonesia in this discussion room? Would love to make contact.


    • Sam Goundar

      Hi Alan,

      This sounds like something that can be used in our south pacific islands … would you be able to point me to more information on this?

      Lack of electricity and internet access is common amongst our remote islands … what about content? Is it via Internet or is it pre-loaded?

      Do the students use the same?



  9. Hi Alan and others
    MKFC Educationfinder from Finland and Sweden are offering Teacher Training in Service in Africa. We are using ICT tools as the carrier. ICT is not a subject for us. ICT gives external connections ,teachers get training in using social media, training in problembased action method to make changes in traffic safety outside schools or learn childrens rights. When they learn theory and practize it at once in daily praxis the changes happens with childrens level too. We in Sweden and Finland started also by doing things we could. We had some computers, no mobiles , no broadband when we started. Its not the dollars its an attitude. International community has responsibility to offer modern days education for all.


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