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Key Teacher Training Questions: How and What to Train?

Ian Thomson


I think all people will agree that training in the use of new technology is important. Nobody will disagree this is necessary. The more important questions may be to “Train for what?” and “How to train?

Wrong Training Focus

Today, much of the training is on how to use the technology and is usually done by a technical person who has little experience in teaching. The training covers things like turning on the PC, using the mouse, typing etc and then gets into using Word, Skype and perhaps some educational games or searching for resources with Google.

The trainer does not understand the pedagogy of teaching and there is little focus on how to use ICTs in the classroom for teaching and learning. It is generally assumed that the teacher will be able and willing to work out how to apply the technology to teaching. In many developing countries, the assumption that teachers have the initiative and time to learn how to effectively use ICTs to teach better may not be valid.

The little training that is teaching and learning focused is lapped up with most teachers saying they want much more, which brings me to the second issue of how to train.

Wrong Training Style

All reports I have read on deploying ICTs in schools, the feedback is that teachers need more training. Taking this to an extreme, it seems we could never satisfy the need for training. So we have to draw the line somewhere. I suggest that one part of training must be to teach teachers how to learn from each other. Sharing what works and what they are struggling with can be very helpful and most people I talk to say that is how they learnt much of their ICT knowledge

It is often assumed by trainers from developed countries, that such sharing will automatically happen, but there are at least two organizational and cultural issues at play that often make such assumptions invalid.

  1. The organisation most likely will not support teachers experimenting and learning new things by themselves. Such learning may not be in accordance with the curriculum and may not be consistent with policy. Most Education systems in developing countries are very conservative and reluctant to change. Individual experimentation is discouraged.
  2. Cultural issues may prevent people taking the initiative or sharing their new found knowledge. In many developing countries, there are fairly strict hierarchies and rules about who is allowed to speak out and how and when.

So I would submit that any training must also include behavioral change.

Change Must be Driven From the Top

I suspect that such change in behavior will not occur without strong leadership, for example from the principle, the school inspectors, the curriculum development team, and even the secretary of education. Change must be driven from the top.

So ICT training must also occur at the all levels in the organisation and be supported by Policy to legitimize the new behavior.

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11 Responses to “Key Teacher Training Questions: How and What to Train?”

  1. Cornelia Victolero

    I agree! Since the world is IT enabled and dependent, we must teach what we will practice on the future. Let us study TOMORROW's knowledge and align to company's job requirement.

    • That's exactly the wrong training model. Ian is specificity saying we should NOT focus training on how to use computers. Teachers should get a grounding in pedagogy and the permission & encouragement for collaboration & experimentation.I think the permission angle is key. In one country I advised, the teacher's job performance was measured by roving inspectors – not principals or parents. So not only did we need to facilitate teacher pedagogy change in the classroom, we also needed to change the mindset and evaluation criteria of the inspectors.Of course the whole idea of non-school-based inspectors judging teachers is a little odd to me. Peers, principals and parents are in a much better position to evaluate teachers, though the director of the teacher evaluation directorate had a classic response to my query on the need for inspectors: "We must have outside inspectors – principals are too busy running the school to know if teachers are effective or not"

  2. ajitha nayar

    Yes, I agree. Trained teachers do not ensure pedagogical use of technology . The school environment , teaching environment should be conducive for deploying technology in the teaching learning process.Yes, school administrators play a decisive role in encouraging and discouraging ICT based pedagogical innovations.What should be done is to remove all misgivings and inhibitions the school may have on ICT based curricular reforms. Collect feedback from other schools which have experimented with the reform and convince schools, principals and authorities regarding the positive outcomes .

  3. Oscar Becerra

    Microwaves oven have improved the way we live because we knew hat we needed from them and just found our ways around. I am sure very few people do with them more than a little fraction of what they can do but nevertheless need them and enjoy a more comfortable life because of them, Same with mobiñle phones, etc. etc. etc. IMHO the reason for that is because we know what we need and know when it is done right. Maybe the need for training results from teachers not really knowing what to do in the classroom … with or without … technology. Therefore training becomes educating not about technology but about teaching

  4. Oscar Becerra

    I used to give a course on ICT4E at a local Masters' Degree Program in Higher Education Pedagogy. Part of the forst class was a survey about what students expected goals were in attending the class. Almost 100% have "learning about technology and what to do with it in the classroom" among their top objectives. Out of 17 2 hour sessions, less than 2 hours were spent talking about technology or what to do with it. In practical terms the whole class was about what real teaching is all about and how can you tell your students are learning. Students were required to present their ideas using technology taht was available to them in the class. At the end of the class every student reported their golas had been attained. This is what led me to conclude what I say in prvious comment

  5. Karamagi Frederick

    Teachers and the entire school administration – especially in developing economies – need the following training:
    1. Attitude change
    2. ICT Skills
    3. The "hows" of using ICT skills for
    (a) Pedagogical purposes
    (b) Administrative tasks (like writing report cards, archiving, etc)
    I am an instructor at one institute. I use MS Excel when marking and submit my exam results in MS Excel format. The institute does not like it that way!!. I must transfer the results onto a sheet of paper (by hand) – the attendance sheet signed by students when they sat the exam. A secretary then re-enters the results manually (from my had written sheet) into MS Excel. Imagine the errors generated. I tried to advise against this practice but it was putting me at logger heads with the institute management. I have not yet given up. My friend (a head teacher and proprietor of a primary school) reserves the last 2 weeks of every term for writing report cards. There is no teaching, all teachers are busy with report cards. I have failed to convince him that he with a PC he could write the report cards in a day and save the rest of the 2 weeks for teaching. No success yet but at least he is nursing the idea of buying a PC.

    • Yes, I do agree this is a real problem. The reason I believe is because most of the other teachers or headmasters or administrations are still very much manual or paper based. Getting into computer to look at the result sheets one by one is not their normal routine. they need physical paper based materials to flip through etc.

      Well actually the solution is not the digital format you submit but rather is to ease that putting in the data into Excel spreadsheet that takes time not to mention the manual correcting of marks, calculate the percentage scores etc.

      We have into this direction are trying to get teachers to use digital tests rather than paper based tests. Students are given the digital tests to do anywhere they can find a computer and submit this digitally to the teacher who then collate it automatically into the excel spreadsheet by the computer. Not a single stroke of keyboard entry is effected other than clicking the mouse on what to do.

      So this would take away the hours and hours of report cards kind of activities etc. by simply writing a macro to do the job after that. Totally paperless.

      We are now launching a global Green Campaign to get Universities around the world to go greener by using less paper in their homework assignments. We intend to give out up to 500 free licences for both lecturers as well as students for each Universitiy to get them to go green. Imagine the tons of paper generated at the end of the year for each University today …. Even the most advanced Universities I know are still very paper based when coming to lecturers giving tests.

      So in the end it is about getting those teachers and headmasters into digital assignements first rather than getting them to key in manually into Excel Spreadsheets only. That would solve the problem.

      Alan http://www.paperlesshomework.com


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