I continue to refine the background of the problem I am addressing in this research. My main point is that teachers’ preparation to use ICT for teaching and learning processes are assumed but not understood. That is why, despite massive expenditures to provide ICT resources in schools, the actual processes of teaching and learning have not changed significantly. This is quite remarkable, given the ways people are teaching and learning about diverse topics and issues outside the organizational structure of formal education.
I am writing about the lack of teachers’ and teacher candidates’ ICT preparation as endemic, unexamined, and continuing. To illustrate the background of the problem, I started looking at provincial conditions for incorporating ICT in education.
Note – when I refer to incorporating ICT in education, I do not mean integrating ICT into existing curricula and pedagogy. I mean incorporating ICT as a cognitive, cultural, and technological entity that contributes to the ways we learn, the kinds of relationships we are able to form, and the participatory learning cultures constituted through its use.
At the provincial level, I have examined online documents for the four western provinces of Canada, so far. I was looking at three institutional entities: Provincial Ministry of Education curriculum; provincial teacher accreditation requirements, and provincially based teacher education program entry and graduation requirements. I was looking for specific references to digital technology, ICT, and curricular or pedagogical indicators of ICT incorporation. At this point I am surprised at a couple of findings.
First, at the Ministry of Education level, there are references to computers, digital technologies, and ICT at the curriculum level. These references, by and large, refer to adopting technological tools to teach existing curriculum, or specific computer and technology courses. In BC the Ministry of Education is attempting to implement a new plan for BC Education based on 21st century technological conditions, but there is no detailed explanation of how that would actually work in practice.
Second, at the teacher accreditation level, none of the institutions issuing credentials for teacher certification specified attainment of a baseline of ICT skills, knowledge or experience. Accreditation for teacher certification did not require the preparation of ICT perspectives and practices for teachers.
Third, in the teacher education programs that I examined, none of the programs had specific program entry or graduation requirements pertaining to ICT preparation. Some programs required completion of a mandatory introductory course for using computers in classrooms, none of the programs I found online had a specific focus addressing the preparation of teacher candidates’ ICT perspectives and practices.
It is very time consuming navigating each provincial online site, trying to find specific program information and graduation requirements. It is interesting, though, to see examine these relationships, not only between global society incorporating ICT at an unprecedented rate and Ministries of Education who are 1) attempting to catch up but lacking details; 2) taking a proactive approach but limiting the use of ICT to the realm of ‘tools’; or 3) not discussing the need for ICT proficiency at all. Then there is the relationship between what the Ministry of Education is proposes and the actual accreditation requirements for teacher certification. In British Columbia there is no relationship between the new BC Education Plan and the credentials required to teach. In other provinces, because there is no ICT proficiency specified in Ministry Curriculum, there is alignment with credential requirements that also do not specify ICT proficiency.
With regards to teacher education programs, they are aligned with the credential requirements of their professional organizations. There is no requirement for ICT proficiency to be issued a teachers licence, and teacher education programs do not prioritize ICT incorporation into teaching and learning processes.
I am somewhat shocked at this state of affairs. Also, from my reading, Canada is not unusual and there is an international problem of teacher candidates graduating into the profession unprepared to incorporate ICT for teaching and learning processes. The amount of money that has been invested in providing schools with ICT devices, software applications, and infrastructure is calculated in the billions worldwide, and yet there has not been a commensurate effort to ensure educators are actually prepared to use these resources, and use them to prepare our future citizens to participate in society as their lives are taking shape both off- and on-line.