Watson (2001) investigates ideas about the focus of the ICT in education issue, and postulates that ICT is still an outsider and “imposed” in educational settings. To what extent do you think this is accurate in both your own setting, but in general now that we have had 10 more years of ICT integration. 

My recent experience would refute Watson’s (2001) idea that ICT is an outsider, however my perspective may well be affected by my circumstances. My previous school required a high level of proficiency with integrating ICT for learning and my current role as a Technology Coach, supporting others to integrate technology for learning has provided evidence that most of my colleagues are ready and willing to integrate ICT. I am seeing significant growth across the school as systems are more seamlessly incorporated. These two roles have repositioned my perspective, but may be isolated as I have sought learning environments where integration of ICT to enhance and transform learning is a priority. 

Whether technology is “imposed” on the other hand, is an interesting question in this discourse. As Watson reflects, teachers may be (rightly) reticent to accept change where it does not tangibly improve learning outcomes – if the rhetoric is deeply flawed (Watson, 2001, p. 261), why would educators get on board? Perhaps this has created a catch 22, with educators reluctant to invest in a pedagogical shift without first seeing evidence of its worth. 

To some extent, IT systems have been imposed on teachers in most school contexts including mine; however, despite the cognitive overload that comes along with new learning, the merit of improved, more successfully integrated systems has become evident and therefore accepted by the staff over time. Over the past two years at my school, Microsoft Office 365 including OneNote Class Notebook has been recommended as a learning tool allowing for multimodal, collaborative processes for teaching and learning, alongside the scope for differentiation and formative assessment. In this space, dialogue is enabled between teachers and students and new scenarios are opened up by ICT (de Aldama and Pozo, 2016) 

Initially, there was uptake from a minority, however in contrast to Watson’s (2001) finding that cascading change has little impact, a shift has occurred amongst our staff and OneNote has now been incorporated into most department areas as evidence of the pedagogical value has filtered through the staff community. Such examples of rich learning tools where educators can see learning potential as well as measures to save time and effort are likely to influence a more successful uptake than that described by Watson. 

The Tech Coach model at my school provides a pathway for modeling initiatives and supporting learning and the development of confidence for other educators. Although there is some overwhelm with systemic change of ICT, the staffing model may help teachers to feel supported and less that technology is unreasonably imposed. 

What shifts in thinking and approach in a pedagogical sense are needed to ensure the appropriate approach to the integration of ICT into education for learning? 

de Aldama and Pozo’s (2016) discussion would indicate that teachers need to shift their beliefs about teaching, learning and knowledge acquisition before they will be prepared to invest in a significant integration of ICT. This is consistent with Bain and Weston’s assertion that teachers struggle to move beyond their own schemas (2013), and therefore may need to experience or witness integration in action to shift their beliefs and change their approach. They need to know it is likely to work and they need to be supported by school leadership to try new approaches.  

Watson outlines Morin’s seven knowledges. These reflect a more holistic view for ICT integration than just the supply of devices, with a broader pedagogical focus including soft skill development. Where ICT integration incorporates a pedagogic and societal focus, repositioning technology as a tool and not a catalyst (Watson, 2001, p.264), transformation of learning with ICT is more likely. 

At mine and many other schools, 2017 has seen the introduction of the Digital Technologies Curriculum which is rich with an emphasis on sophisticated skills, including critical, analytical, computational and design thinking; requiring creative and collaborative solutions to design problems and challenges. Although the segregation of ICT to its own learning area is questioned by Watson (2001) and Somekh (2008), this curriculum framework provides considerable scope to open discourse on transdisciplinary learning opportunities, where STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) through project based learning could tick many of the Australian Curriculum requirements both for the Digital Technologies curriculum as well as the ICT General Capabilities, alongside criteria for other subject areas. This transdisciplinary opportunity is something we are currently planning for our Year 7 cohort later in the year. 

References

ACARA. (2017). Digital Technologies Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum by rows – The Australian Curriculum v8.3. (2017). Australiancurriculum.edu.au. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/digital-technologies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1 

ACARA. (2017). Information and communication technology (ICT) capability – introduction – The Australian curriculum v8.3. Australiancurriculum.edu.au. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/introduction 

Bain, A., & Weston, M. E. (2012). The learning edge: What technology can do to educate all children. New York: Teachers College Press.  

De Aldama, C. and Pozo, J.I. (2016) How are ICT used in the classroom? A study of teachers; beliefs and uses. Electronic journal of research in educational psychology, September 2016, Vol.14(2), pp.253-286 [Peer Reviewed Journal] 

Somekh, B. (2008). Factors Affecting Teachers’ Pedagogical Adoption of ICT. International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education. J. Voogt and G. Knezek, Springer US. 20: 449-460. 

Watson, D. (2001). Pedagogy before technology: Re-thinking the relationship between ICT and teaching.” Education and information technologies 6(4): 251-266.