In order to promote quality and purposeful outcomes for students, educators must provide engaging teaching and learning opportunities across all key learning areas that integrate the active use of innovative technologies. To be able to do this, teachers require professional development but unfortunately, there are not enough highly-skilled support systems in place within schools to cater for the ever-growing technology and the growth of teacher capability in digital pedagogy.
DRAFT RESEARCH QUESTION
Is the role of an ICT Mentor effective in increasing teacher capacity in primary schools?
FROM LITERATURE TO RESEARCH QUESTION AND PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE
According to the Assessing Progress of the DER and Potential Future Directions Final Report (Deparment of Education, 2013) there are four strands relating to what is required to effectively use technology in education. These strands are infrastructure, leadership, teacher capability and learning resources. DandoloPartners was commissioned to undertake this mid-program review in order to answer the following fundamental question: Has the DER been a catalyst for positive change that establishes the foundations for improved use of ICT in education? Whilst the strand of Infrastructure has mostly been achieved or has seen significant change; areas such as leadership, teacher capability and learning resources have measures with indicators that have only made small gains. Whilst hardware and software have been a successful implementation, the question arising is to whether the other areas would have success, longevity and sustainability if an ICT Mentor was to be a part of the DER process. (http://education.gov.au/technology-schools?resource=)
Seemann (2003) emphasises the importance of basic principals in holistic technology in education. He suggests that a holistic approach allows for better informed technical and design decision in a wider range of settings. If ICT Mentors have the skills to understand a particular that is technology, and Seemann (2003) corresponds this with understanding its relation to the whole – it is conducive to suggest that ICT Mentors may be responsible for rich teaching and learning activities implemented by teachers. Technology is identified as a ‘know why’ learning experience rather than a ‘know how’ which has the ability to be supported by ICT Mentors, in particular with the new NSW Syllabus for the Australian English Curriculum.
Prestridge (2012) suggests that beliefs and attitudes of educators may in fact influence classroom practices. Her findings indicated that teacher beliefs have implications for ICT Professional development. It is interesting to speculate that if ICT Mentors have the ability to change teacher competency levels then in turn, it may improve digital pedagogy.
Broadley (2010) has been developing research over many years relating directly to the DER Report (Deparment of Education, 2013). Her focuses are namely around the Digital Education Revolution, learning communities and ICT in rural education. She identifies that some areas are facing significant challenges gaining access to professional learning/development. The provision of ICT Mentors may or may not see the challenges of technology in rural areas altered.
(Hammond, et al., 2009) conducted research on teacher preparedness and factors around support given in school-based training. While results concluded that student-teachers are heavily influenced by mentors there is little evidence in the wider context on how ICT teacher training affects student teacher practice.
As an ICT Mentor and Teacher/Librarian providing support and professional development/training to teachers in a rural primary school, the value and practical importance of this research will be beneficial for teachers, students and the wider professional body to learn and understand how an ICT Mentor may or may not be able to promote well developed ICT frameworks with holistic approaches to best classroom practice through building teacher capacity.
Broadley, T. (2010). Digital revolution or digital divide: will rural teachers get a piece of the professional development pie? Education in Rural Australia , 63-76.
Department of Education. (2013). DER MID PROGRAM REVIEW Assessing Progress of the DER and Potential Future Directions Final Report. Australia: DandoloPartners.
Hammond, M., Croson, S., Fragkouli, E., Ingram, J., Johnston-Wilder, S., Johnston-Wilder, P., et al. (2009). Why do some student teachers make very good use of ICT? An exploratory case study. Technology, Pedagogy and Education , 59-73.
Prestridge, S. (2012). Computers and Education. The beliefs behind the teacher that influences their ICT practices , 449-458.
Seemann, K. (2003). Basic Principles in Holistic Technology Education. Journal of Technology Education, 14(2). 28-39. Retrieved from