I recently came across an article by Dale Spender “What’s a good education” (about embracing technology in schools). Although this article was written in 2002, it refers to bringing education up to 21st century standards. Why are some schools lagging behind 21st century standards and others embracing it? I think the answer is that where school leadership is strong and supportive and where teachers are embracing change themselves, it will spread through the school.
Consider the ICT culture in your school. What is the attitude towards ICT integration – is it supportive or reticent? If ICT is to be successful in schools there needs to be a strong commitment in the values, beliefs and norms towards it. There is no denying the way that computers are transforming the work and lifestyles of people in society today. In order to fully integrate ICT in schools, this may require some major mindset changes towards learning and teaching. A key factor to promote change is a strong culture supporting the necessary implementation and changes it will bring about. Without this, changes in the classroom will not occur. However, despite external government policy expectations, in reality, is ICT being fully embraced?
Despite an overall belief by teachers that ICT is beneficial for learning, there remains a degree of uncertainty (in its application) which can only be diffused by teachers being given the opportunity to realise the potential it has for enhancing learning and obstacles related to implementation minimised. In order for practice to meet policy, change includes a paradigm shift in learning and teaching practices; teaching via ICT is not suited to the traditional didactic form of delivery. A pedagogical overhaul is required to facilitate ICT integration; school policies need to reflect new demands of learning.
Today’s Generation X and Y communicate, learn, access information differently (to previous generations) and multi task (listen to music, surfing the net and doing their homework!). Without school-based changes, ICT will not be fully embraced or utilised. The school curriculum needs to drive the technology, not that technology is used as an add-on to existing curricula. Across the board new changes need to include learning outcomes reflecting ICT integration and ICT competencies need to be linked to educational outcomes. If primary measuring tools remain unchanged, teachers will resist ICT. To not adapt to change, is inhibiting the potential of learners today and not fully equipping them for the future society.
We are faced with living in a continuously changing society and just like other areas of our lives have been revolutionised by technology, education needs to be at the forefront of change to enable schools to deliver the highest possible standards to the knowledge generation. Change in schools will not occur overnight but overcoming the culture shock is a step in the right direction. Hooray to all those teachers who are already blogging, wiki-ing and twittering!