As a new school year dawns many teachers will return to their classroom to find some new piece of technology in their room, if they are lucky! This might entail a new interactive whiteboard or a laptop computer + digital projector installed in their room. This scenario should be occurring in many schools, as all primary schools received funding earlier in the year and similar funds have been promised to second level schools. We can only hope that schools organise appropriate teacher professional development to ensure that these tools are used effectively – both from a technology and a pedagogy perspective. By this I mean that teachers should receiving training on how to operate the devices in addition to receiving professional development on how to use the tools to support teaching, learning and assessment. The goal of such professional development should be to integrate ICT into classroom activities in a seamless and effective way.
But what do we mean by “ICT integration”? Is there an agreed definition? Most government ICT plans state that “ICT integration” is a key goal of their plan but few if any ever define what it looks like. This intrigues me as they subsequently evaluate the programme to establish if integration has taken place and one has to wonder what criteria are they using to establish if it has taken place?
Then today I came across a recent blog post from Dr. Larry Cuban entitled, Confusing Technology Integration with Instructional Reform, and it got me thinking again. The blog refers to a 2005 article by Dr. Judith Harris entitled, Our Agenda for Technology Integration: It’s Time to Choose, where she wonders why most-large-scale technology integration initiatives fail? She offers two reasons: technocentrism and pedagogical dogmatism. I would urge you to read both Cuban’s blog and Judith’s article as they offer an interesting perspective on this issue. But you may have missed some of the comments posted at the end of the blog that caught my attention and I would like to share them with you.
Towards the end of the blog Cuban notes that many educators “tilt toward progressive pedagogy, now called in its various incarnations, constructivism” when integrating ICT into their teaching as if this is the only pedagogy to achieve ICT integration. This is a question that has long intrigued me also and I was fascinated by his response to a comment posted to the blog:
- Dr. Cuban, I’m curious whether you believe that ‘progressive’ (defined, in your terms I believe, as ‘student-centered’) pedagogy is or is not what schools should be striving for in their instruction? You state above that there is a ‘bias’ toward constructivism, which perhaps implies that you do not see constructivist teaching as desirable?
I believe that schools and individual teachers should strive toward varying their instruction to fit differences among students (i.e., motivational, cultural, academic, and other factors). Such variations in pedagogies would mean that teacher-centered, student-centered, and hybrids of both would become appropriate, given the ages of students and the content and skills they are expected to learn. So I do not see any one pedagogy as “desirable,” only different forms of instruction that are tailored to students where they are.
I too believe we should use a variety of pedagogical approaches when integrating ICT into our classrooms and that there is no one size fits all. It reminds me of a very interesting article by Daniel Pratt entitled, Good Teaching – One Size Fits all?, that also makes a similar case.
So what are your thoughts on ICT integration and do you think it can only come about if teachers are using ‘progressive pedagogy’?