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Key Teacher Training Questions: How and What to Train?

Ian Thomson


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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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