We have been involved recently in a number of teacher CPD projects in which we have introduced the UNESCO ICT Competency Standards for Teachers (ICT-CST). We believe these to be an important step forward in teacher education in the area of ICT.
In an effort to help educational policy-makers and curriculum developers identify the skills teachers need to harness technology in education, UNESCO developed the ICT Competency Standards for Teachers Framework. This was done in cooperation with Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Virginia Tech and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Despite the title, the Standards go beyond ICT skills. They combine ICT skills with pedagogy, curriculum and school organisation. They focus on how teachers integrate ICT into their teaching and learning, advance student learning and develop themselves professionally. The Policy Framework also harmonizes different views and vocabulary regarding the uses of ICT in teacher education.
In developing the Standards, UNESCO crossed the three approaches to education reform:
- technology literacy, knowledge deepening, and knowledge creation
with the six key education system components:
- policy, curriculum, pedagogy, ICT, organisation, and teacher CPD.
What makes the Competency Standards interesting is that they provide a progression pathway for teachers’ CPD so as to advance their skills in pedagogy, collaboration, leadership and innovative school development using ICT.
UNESCO provides a set of Implementation Guidelines for CPD providers to identify, develop or evaluate learning materials or CPD programmes in the use of ICT in teaching and learning. The intent is that teacher education providers and teachers themselves will review the ICT Competency Standards to inform the development of new or revised learning materials and methodologies so as to support one or more of the three approaches.
UNESCO have now undertaken to begin mapping existing teacher education initiatives to the ICT-CST in conjunction with ISTE. It looks like EPICT will be one of the first programmes to undergo this process. Microsoft are also working on the Educators Learning Journey which is likely to be an assessment based approach closely tied to the ICT-CST.
For our part, we are using the UNESCO ICT Competency Standards to inform two projects at the moment. With FIT and a number of European partners, we are building an online tool which will allow teachers to evaluate their own ICT competencies. Called eTQF, we will be piloting the online tool in April, check out the eTeach website. With GESCI, we have developed the ICT Teacher Professional Development Matrixand we will be piloting the Matrix in Rwanda in May. More about these projects as they develop.
What is clear is that UNESCO clearly acknowledges the role that ICT can play in supporting educational improvement.