In all teacher education institutions tutors, whether they have a strong background in ICT or not, are expected to embed ICT in the work they do with student teachers and in the way they prepare these students for the 21st century classroom. For over two decades, research has revealed concerns about pre-service course preparation to use technology effectively in the classroom (CEO Forum on Education and Technology, 2000) with many reasons being cited. However student teachers in the 21st century have few qualms about using technology and therefore one of the main challenges existing today for the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) tutors is sustaining pace with the advancement of new technologies and also supporting and guiding student teachers’ technological and pedagogical practices in the classroom.
This research is funded by SCoTENS and focuses on ITE courses across Ireland and NI. Two key research questions are the focus of this paper:
To what extent are ITE tutors ‘technologically ready’ to use ICT in their own pedagogical practice?
What challenges are faced by ITE tutors in terms of their own professional development in new and emerging technologies?
To answer these questions, an online survey based on Parasuraman’s (2000) National Technology Readiness Survey was administered to four ITE institutions eliciting responses from over 50 tutors. Indicators of optimism, innovativeness, discomfort and insecurity were established and respondents revealed their patterns of technology usage for preparing to teach and when working with ITE students. The extent to which ICT was a tool for content creation, presentation, assessment or creativity was investigated alongside their use of hardware (IWBs, iPads, VLE platforms) and subject-specific software.
Preliminary results indicate ITE tutors embrace ICT tools for the traditional uses of presentation on VLEs in their preparation for teaching, however they almost half also report its creativity value (iMovie, mind mapping) and their use of simulations and online assessment. Interestingly, the ITE tutors report much greater use of these tools when working with ITE students. Their pedagogical approaches appear to model good practice with all uses of the ICT being embraced apart from collaborative tools such as Google Hangouts or Skype. The latter may be indicative of the face-to-face nature of ITE training in the university context.
In relation to strategies to assist with their own professional development as a 21st century teacher educator, the majority of CPD comes from personal trial and error and friendship groups sharing good practice.