Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chasing Our Tails?

A few weeks ago I blogged about working with a group of 1 year grad student teachers where I was showing them twitter. The session was supposed to be about Interactive Whiteboards and their use in the classroom. This topic lastest all of 5-10 minutes before we were side-tracked into the extensive world of e-learning and it's many avenues. This was a group of student teachers keen and ready to learn.

In our session we covered everything from twitter, interactive whiteboards, blogs and wikis through to cybersafety. It was a packed hour session and they all seemed keen to work together again to develop an aspect of e-learning. Many of them could automatically see benefits to blogging and were keen to spend some time learning about blogs in particular.

But what stumped me... and them... was that this session could possibly be
the only e-learning training that they could receive the entire year they were training to become teachers. This seemed to really interest them - almost as much as their comments interested and concerned me.

What is actually happening in teacher training to prepare and show these new teachers what is happening in classes with e-learning?

Are we filtering new teachers into the system with little knowledge and training into what the possiblities are and what is already going on with e-learning? Obviously there is SO much that needs to be taught to training teachers - but is there development of e-learning and of how it can be embedded into their teaching part of their training?

I know I have no extensive knowledge other than working with these students and what has been shared by others, and I am in no way criticising Tertiary. But I do struggle to see how we are going to make the changes and developments we are pushing for in schools now, when the system in place to train upcoming teachers seems to be limited in this respect. Schools are placing so much money into the development of this area in their schools. If my job as a e-learning specialist in a school is to support teachers with their development, surely we can be training teachers preservice to develop a more confident knowledge of the possibilities of e-learning before they enter the profession?

Then hopefully we won't be chasing our tails as much... perhaps?

Image used under CC: Husbandunit


Naketa said...

Great post HeyMilly!
I totally feel you on this one. I often visit pre-service early childhood teachers studying at tertiary level and spend anything from 1 hour to 3 hours talking about the scope if ICT in ECE, this takes about an hour and I quickly touch on blogs, digital microscope, skype, documenting tools like comic life etc. Then I go deeper into one aspect - usually digital storytelling, but its all dependent on what the teachers are wanting last week it was on Skype and we skyped a kindergarten from Auckland to Fiordland. Yep sounds pretty cool and pretty standard.

BUT it is the only time they get exposed to anything like this, its just pure luck that a student teacher gets to do a practicum in a centre that uses any sort of ICT for teaching and learning or to even hear me talk about ICT.

What worries me more is that these presentations are over and above my actual job, I basically do it as a favour to the lecturers because I know them. I'm not sure what the answer is but something needs to happen asap. For now I'm just doing my bit.

Remember that Karl Fisch Youtube video - one of the facts he points out is that by the time people graduate half of what they have learned will be outdated (or something along those lines) - hmmm there may be some truth with regard to e-learning.

Ok, that was longer than I intended ... hehe. Have a great day and thanks for the post.

kells said...

hey milly! i did my nz teacher training in 2006, and there was very, very little ICT use - i may have used the most in my own presentations. i picked up most of my high-school relevant ICT skills from a supervisory teacher while on section. however, most of the teachers i observed during my training were *not* using ICT in any meaningful way in the classroom (although they may have been personally). i had a lot more ICT training 10 years ago when i was a grad student at uni teaching 1st and 2nd year uni students...but that was so long ago now to be totally outdated. i don't think it's going to be any better this year or next - PD budgets will be going to the new curriculum (more paper & pen days), and not ICT workshops, sadly.

learninginfusion said...

Oh no it is a pretty sad state of affairs. I too share all of your concerns. A few years ago I was in your position of sharing our passion and enthusiasm for integrating ICT/elearning with training teachers. This was also something over and above my role as classroom teacher, but I feel it is important to give back to where you came from if you can. What intrigued me was that many of the group did not know of podcasting or blogging and what's more were blown away with the concept of giving the children a digital camera to capture their views of the world and express their learning. "You gave the children the camera to use?" I was so shocked as I had assumed that this stuff would be considered basic in this day in age of teacher training. What was of even greater interest was that their tutor at the time reminded them that lectures were available as podcasts from their uni website should they wish to access them. This was news to them.
I wonder now, if as it is in classrooms today that the eworld of learning is based on an ecological premise, which competes with the school/classroom/university models which can be and may still continue to be modeled on the traditional mechanistic paradigm. Elearning embraces empowerment, participation and self organisation, but do our educational institutes???

Pedro said...

Thanks for the post. It's a curly one for sure... but I wonder what really gets in the way of GOOD ICT integration? Has that been studied? I've developed a pet theory in the last 8 seconds. Maybe it relates to teachers' capacity to manage change and adapt to use different resources effectively. What I mean is, maybe that core skill is not as related to ICT knowledge as we assume. I wonder if, were we to ask a teacher to deliver the curriculum for a week using only the medium of play dough, we'd see some pretty interesting results.
If Tertiary institutions balanced core curriculum delivery with pro-actively developing flexible approaches to engage students in meaningful ways using limited resources... we'd see great stuff I think. We go on about 'it's not the tool, it's how you use it'.... but we don't learn flexible tool use.
Once you've taken apart a telephone using only kitchen utensils, you see the world is full of flexible tools. It's a powerful, transferrable attitude.
I was always focussed on the task at hand and never distracted by the shinyness of my tools, that were the self sharpening knives and bone china my Nan cherished. That meant I stayed on task till the phone was all over the kitchen floor. Job done. Nan had a different perspective... she was all about the tools. There was no desert that night.

Pete Hall
Summerland Primary

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