A bridge too far? Explaining beginning teachers’ use of ICT in Australian schools

Integration of ICT in the classroom


It seems like the message about ICT in education about being beneficial in engaging student learning, promoting student-centered learning and actually taking into account that the positives outweigh the negatives when incorporating ICT in the classroom (Isard, 2012) isn’t quite getting through or is simply being ignored or might be getting lost in translation.

I think this because of a recent article I read which was about a study of how young teachers use ICT within the classroom, this study was not only centred on how young teachers use technology in the classroom but also what technology was available to them, what technological support was available and what support the school gave to teachers wanting to embrace and use ICT in the classroom regularly.

The study followed 3 young teachers and their experience with technology in the classroom, I was quite surprised to find that many of the teachers did not have access to adequate technology (Bate, 2010, table 1); it was also very eye-opening to see that the school/principal’s support in ICT is crucial otherwise ICT in the classroom will not be productive. The study also found that during the first 3 years of teaching the young  teachers did not use ICT in ways that could contribute to their pedagogical beliefs due to facing a mix of constraints which resulted  in using ICT in a way that was more teacher centred and not very creative (Bate, 2010, p.10).

As a 2nd year education student I have found that at the moment there is an immense focus on how to incorporate ICT in the classroom, however this can be quite a challenge if when I graduate, I find myself in a school where there is limited support in helping teachers incorporate ICT use in the classroom or there is simply an inadequate supply of technology in the classroom (e.g. 3 computers for a class of 25). This is the position many of the young teachers who participated in the study found themselves in, “with current class sizes, it is impossible to use the computers meaningfully for student directed activity other than for interactive games.” (Mike, 2008, p.8)

ICT is supposed to support student directed learning so if there are not enough computers in a classroom to do this, why bother with ICT in the first place? By reading this article and countless others it is clear there is a complex system that must be united in order for ICT to be incorporated in schools effectively. Bate (2010) states that this complex system can be divided in 3 sections individual, school and systemic levels of education (p.15).

So for ICT to be integrated effectively into the classroom, technology and pedagogy must be united as one, the school leadership must also have an active interest in supporting ICT; this means the school must provide easy access to ICT and have a positive attitude towards it being used in the classroom, Bate (2010) also raises the issue that schools may need a structural reform…

Well now we know the recipe for how to incorporate ICT into schools effectively all we have to do now is follow the procedure….SO LETS GET TO IT!

Bate, F. (2010). A bridge too far? Explaining beginning teachers’ use of ICT in Australian schools.  Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(7), 1-19. Retrieved from https://learnit.nd.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-50164-dt-content-rid-56449_1/courses/F-ED2632-13S1/bate.pdf

Isard, J. (2012) Why mobile technology makes sense in the 21st century classroom. The Professional Educator. Retrieved from https://learnit.nd.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-50164-dt-content-rid-56465_1/courses/F-ED2632-13S1/Mobile_learning_summer_school.pdf

Baskin,C.,& Williams,M. (2006). ICT integration in schools: where are we now and what comes next?. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(4), 455-473. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet22/baskin.html