Teacher Learning, ICT, and Cultures of Connectivity #edchat #edtech

I have been in the midst of a literature review of educational research titles pertaining to digital technology in teacher education. My primary interest in this literature review has been to look at teacher candidate ICT learning in teacher education, as well as teacher educator ICT learning and teacher education program ICT curriculum. In recognition that teacher education educators are drawn from in-service teachers, I have also been looking at in-service teacher ICT learning. My database of article titles numbers 2,137. I have been coding them to identify the focus of the research: 1) in-service teacher ICT learning, 2) pre-service teacher ICT learning, 3) teacher educator ICT learning, 4) ICT use in schools, 5) student learning with ICT, 6) online teaching, and 7) other (subjects that don’t fit into items 1 – 6).

My first pass over the titles has been to give each article at least one code, with some annotations for clarity. I am working from titles collected from journals and conference papers published 2010 – 2014. One gap in this collection of research literature that keeps jumping out at me is the lack of studies into in-service teacher ICT learning. As I review the articles pertaining to in-service teacher learning, I notice there are a number of articles that investigate teacher knowledge, knowledge sharing, teacher use of ICT, teacher beliefs and attitudes about ICT, teacher ICT intentions, changing educational practice through ICT interventions, teacher ICT practices, teacher ICT professional development, teacher ICT presence in online learning environments, teacher pedagogical beliefs and ICT use, teachers’ use of ICT in specific subject areas (literacy, math, science, social studies, art, music, etc.), and teachers as ICT instructional designers. What I have not found is research investigating and discussing teacher learning. Specifically, there is a glaring absence of research reporting teachers learning ICT: how, why, when, where and what. 

The teaching profession and the field of education are undergoing many changes due to complex forces at play in early 21st century society. One of the most profound changes our human society is undergoing is our ubiquitous use of ICT in all our human knowledge and social systems. Our society relies on teachers to provide learning opportunities and instructional support to our citizenry, from pre-k to adult learning, and yet, there appears to be a dearth of knowledge about how teachers learn, and how they learn to teach with, about, and through ICT devices, software applications, and network infrastructures.

Part of my work with this literature review is to prepare my presentation for CSELP 2014 Symposium taking place on February 22, 2014 at the Segal Graduate School of Business, in Vancouver, BC. The topic of this symposium is the idea of changing technocratic conceptions of digital technologies in the service of education to think of our relationships with digital technologies and the multitudinous ways learning takes place when we engage media, networks, libraries, and temporary connections in shared interests and issues. It appears one of our most urgent, and necessary tasks, is to actually understand how teachers learn: how they learn to change their beliefs, their practices, their technological knowledge, their pedagogical practices, and their inter-collegial cultures for learning, and learning to change, particularly with regards to digital technologies for learning, and digital technologies in society.

I think it is safe to say there is not one teacher in British Columbia who shares identical ICT beliefs, practices, pedagogy, and online learning relationships, with any other teacher in this province. The fact is that every teacher has a unique history that has informed the formation of their relationship with digital technology in their professional practice. At the same time, many teachers have experienced similar phenomena and ICT events with their colleagues that have shaped their beliefs, attitudes, pedagogy and practice. I would argue that one of the most important steps we can take to transforming educational uses of digital technologies is to share our stories about our encounters with ICT in practice: in the staff room, at professional development events, and above all, in our classrooms. We need productive opportunities to talk about where we have come from, and where it might be possible for us to go. These discussions must be informed by the work of others, by research and literature that can broaden our perspectives and deepen our understandings. We won’t truly engage 21st century learning in our education system until we have made sense of what it means to do this, and we can’t make sense of it if we don’t talk about it.

I look forward to the day when every education professional in this province considers themselves a ‘thought leader’ (and discussion leader) as we formulate a vision for learning, digital technology, and cultures of connectivity in British Columbia. The stories we share become the research literature we can draw on to inform our imaginings for a dynamic, evolving, knowledge-generative ecology of learning in BC education.