Technology and teacher educators – what do we know?


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Presentation for
"Technology for Learning: developing the teachers"
conference held at Newcastle College on Friday 9th July 2009

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  • Ok, let’s move on into the main reason I am here today. I’m presuming that you are aware of your sector skills council, Lifelong Learning UK, where I am on the Standards and Qualifications team. We undertake research and produce labour market intelligence to help with workforce development planning and to inform the development of standards and qualifications for the sector. You will probably know us best, however, as the organisation that developed the new teaching qualifications for FE, affectionately known as PTLLS, CTLLS and DTLLS! Earlier this year we undertook a small piece of research to investigate how technology was being used in the content and delivery of initial teacher training in England. All of the CETTs took part in the research along with 9 initial teacher training providers – you may have attended one of the focus groups. We wanted to ascertain whether, because of the proliferation of technology even since the teaching qualifications were introduced in 2007, there might be a need to introduce a unit into the qualification around the use of ICT for learning. I’m just going to share with you now some of the key findings of the research. Since it involved interviews and focus groups it was a qualitative study only so I can’t share statistics with you. However, there were some key messages which came out which I hope will resonate with your own experience.
  • Firstly, the use of technology is embedded across the curriculum. I was delighted to hear this was the case. Since I started my role focusing on technology for learning last August I have changed my job title 3 times! Firstly I had the horrendous title of ‘e-capable workforce development’ which I rejected outright! Then we discussed using the term e-learning. Although the term e-learning has been around for a long time, it does have particular connotations – that of learning solely in an online environment. For me, the phrase kind of makes the tail wag the dog – putting the ‘e’ before the ‘learning’ which I know for all of you, you would not want to do. We are not in the business of using technology for technology’s sake. Some years ago I was involved in commissioning education projects in museums and libraries in Yorkshire. To get the funding each project had to contain an ‘e-learning’ element. We found that we needed to be a bit more explicit about what that meant. Some people were thinking that if they took some photos of the project and then put them on their website that that was ‘e-learning’! We ended up telling people that the ‘e’ stood, not for electronic, but for ‘enhanced’. We asked people to question themselves, ‘if using the technology doesn’t enhance the learning experience, why are you using it? Maybe pen and paper will do the trick?’ I was speaking to my mum the other day and I said, ‘it’s weird, we don’t talk about book learning do we?’ She said that actually we did used to use that phrase – her parents had used it. My feeling is that just in the same way that it sounds odd to talk about ‘book learning’ that we will not be talking about e-learning before long. That is one of the reasons why I entitled this talk ‘from e-learning to digital pedagogies’ – the focus has to be the pedagogy, not the technology! So now my job title has ‘technology enhanced learning’ tacked onto it. I don’t really like this either but it will do for now! So with this observation in the research it became clear to us that having a separate unit in the qualification around using ICT would kind of defeat the object. Much better to have the core elements of the course delivered using the latest tools available, including technology, so that teaching graduates are equipped to inspire their learners and connect with them.
  • Another observation was that there is real variation in the levels of confidence of teacher educators in using technology – some are still sitting in the bathing cart here – not convinced yet that they should be using some of these tools. The vast majority are putting their toes in the water, trying things out but often struggling to find the time to get up to speed with new tools. And a few, and I think there are probably quite a few of you here today, are in the water, telling everyone else ‘come on in, the water’s lovely!’
  • What this means is that there is no across the board consensus as to what constitutes effective use of technology for learning. LLUK published last year a replacement for the former 2005 e-learning standards: a guidance document which applies the use of technology to the professional teaching standards. I hope some of you might have been able to access this guide. This document makes some clear statements as to what you can do to use technology to enhance your professional practice as a teacher, but it will take some time before everyone is in agreement as to what really constitutes effective and pioneering use of technology. What is clear is that new pedagogies are emerging as teacher educators actively reflect on developments to ensure that their course content and delivery remains current. It will take some time for these new theories of learning to trickle into practice. Another finding of the research is that although many teachers are using technology with learners, they are not always considering the pedagogical applications of the tools they are using. There is perhaps a need to build in, more explicitly, regular reflection on the variety of tools available and what their value is from an educational point of view. Again, trying to move away from using technology for technology’s sake and more to using technology only when it is going to impact on teaching and learning positively.
  • We found, and I know that this will resonate with some of you, that there is a clear tension between helping trainee teachers to learn how to use cutting edge tools but then finding that in their provider context they are not allowed to use those tools or they are not available. There is a great deal of risk aversion in some providers, especially around the safeguarding agenda, which means that things like facebook are being banned in colleges. At an event I ran recently, however, one person said ‘banning facebook is insane. If it is dangerous then we need to teach people how to use it properly. Banning it just makes it worse’. I would agree with this assessment. But this is a real challenge and an area for debate for the sector. If you cast your mind back to the bathing machine picture, people are in different places again on the use of certain social media tools for learning. This argument did used to be about equipment – smaller community venues, for example, not having the technology kit to use some of these tools. However, the issue of kit is not as pressing an issue as it used to be. Many learners have very sophisticated phones in their pockets. Netbooks and broadband dongles are becoming far more affordable as are video cameras such as Flip from Sony. The arguments now are focusing on what people do with the kit – especially on sites like Facebook. I think the use of social media will dominate our discussions around learning technologies for at least the next 5 years.
  • So the application guides I referred to earlier seem to be a helpful approach to helping teacher educators and practitioners to use technology in their learning delivery. They support the embedded approach which you are taking. However, they are simply a series of statements about ‘what’ you can do to use technology in teaching. What people said when we did the research was that they would like some more examples of ‘how’ to use some of the tools referred to and which are the best ones from an educational point of view. So they are some of the key findings of the research we did. I don’t think any of it will be a surprise to you.
  • What fascinates me is that this is an issue that doesn’t only affect FE! The whole lifelong learning sector is grappling with these issues of how to use technology really well to inspire learners. On March 19th this year we held a symposium event for a variety of people from FE, HE, libraries and work-based learning to discuss how technology is changing the way we teach and learn. This was accompanied by an online discussion through twitter using the hashtag #learning3. This tag cloud picture is an image of some of the terms shared on twitter in conversations about learning3. What did we discover? Well firstly, that it’s not about the technology! It’s no longer about how many PCs there are per head in a college. It’s about the social web and how people are using it. In fact, it is about people again, about the learners – what they need, what they’re asking for and how we can deliver it. The second big message was that in some ways it is not so much about a skills need in the workforce as the need for a new mind-set. A new way of thinking and working in this fast paced environment.
  • We spent much of the day trying to identify the needs of the workforce and they fell into two broad categories, attitudes and behaviours required and then skills. The attitudes and behaviours needed were a new mind-set – a willingness to change on the part of people in the workforce and a recognition of the need to change. The other attitudes and behaviours were flexibility, adaptability and resilience. The skills needs we identified were digital life skills – that is basic computer skills, mentoring and coaching, facilitation, the ability to manage online identities and/or the online presence of your course or institution. The next one was also reflected in our research in ITT – the ability to critically evaluate new technologies for their use in teaching and learning and finally, and this one was particularly relevant for librarians – curating content developed by others online.
  • So, from both the small study we did into the use of technology in ITT and the online conversations we had around ‘learning 3.0’ as we dubbed it, what has emerged are that there are some barriers which hinder our ability to make sure that learning professionals are confident in using all the tools available to them with their learners. These key barriers are ‘fear’ – fear of getting it wrong, looking stupid, knowing less than your learners; risk aversion – the internet’s dangerous so we’ll just ban it; a lack of awareness about what you can do with different tools, this is also a lack of awareness that a lot of the tools now available are completely free to use; and finally there is still the barrier in some areas of not having the kit or the connectivity to use the tools. So let’s get to the nub of this now. How on earth do we address these barriers? Well my feeling is that we need to think a bit differently about workforce development.
  • Traditionally we tend to say, when training someone, ‘to do this job you need to be able to do this’ and we send them on a course to learn. What if, instead of saying ‘you should do this’ that we asked professionals ‘what do you want to do today?’ I know which phrase would motivate me as a learner more! As professional teachers, you have the professional teaching standards which LLUK developed available to you, you also have, in the area of technology, the technology guidance document I already referred to. So let’s pick one of the standards ‘motivating and engaging learners’. That’s what you want to do today. Well what if we then present some of the different tools you can use to do that. Some may be more ‘traditional’, some may be online. You choose a tool you like the look of. Before you use it you’d like to know if it really works in your learning environment – perhaps you can access a database of good practice examples, where you can hear how a peer is using it (this might be in a blog or a youtube video or a case study article). Then you think, I want to use that tool but I don’t know how. You can access support either by doing a qualification (if there’s one available), going on a CPD course or perhaps speaking to an e-learning champion in your organisation who can guide you through. You then learn how to use the tool and try it out with your learners. Then you reflect on how useful it was, and if it worked, you might write about it and share that with your colleagues but also with an online community to be accessed by others. And then the whole cycle starts again. You’ll have noticed as I went through this that there is not a great deal new here, it is just looking at what we already do from a different angle. Just as in this picture here – the cliff is still the same cliff, but if you look at it from a certain angle, it looks like something else! As I was speaking you were perhaps thinking of some of the support already available to you such as standards and qualifications LLUK have developed, the E-CPD framework led by LSIS and the IfL Reflect tool. Looking at developing the workforce in this way – that is, starting with the role an individual has - tries to address the barriers I spoke about earlier. The fear factor is reduced because the focus is not on what you can’t do but on what you, as a professional, do every day. Risk aversion is reduced because you have access to a tangible example of the tool actually working and you are made aware of what is available at the beginning of the process. Finally, not having the kit or the connectivity could hopefully be addressed by ensuring that the database of good practice included examples of operating with very little equipment.
  • So, what are we going to do now at LLUK to try and address these barriers? Well as I was thinking about the process I just described to you, I realised that the area with the least resource is around a comprehensive list of the tools available for learning – particularly technological tools. As people said in our research, the technology guidance document says things like ‘you might want to use a podcast’ but it doesn’t tell me how or what is a good one to use. What I hope to develop over the next few months, in consultation with practitioners like you, is a simple guide to some of the best tools out there. I have been thinking of using a ‘top 5’ idea – what are the top 5 podcasts, top 5 youtube videos, top 5 content creation software etc. all with a focus on their educational value. There is already a wealth of information about this stuff out there – all I am proposing that we do is put some of that all in one place and connect it to the professional standards.
  • The other piece of work we are going to do is a literature review around emerging digital pedagogies. What we have realised from our research this year is that we need to be understanding the impact on pedagogy of using technology. We need to understand how teaching is evolving so that when we next come to review the teacher training qualifications that we have a strong theoretical underpinning for the curriculum. Our vision at LLUK is to ensure that teachers in the lifelong learning sector are confident at using all the tools at their disposal to offer the best possible learning experience to their learners which then prepares them to live and work in the 21st century. We can’t do any of this without the fantastic work you do in developing the next generation of teachers. We would love you to continue to feed in to LLUK your views, experiences and any research you have done so that we can be making the right calls and letting government know what your needs are.
  • Technology and teacher educators – what do we know?

    1. 1. Technology and teacher educators – what do we know? Technology for Learning: developing the teachers Friday 9th July 2009 Newcastle College Bryony Taylor, LLUK
    2. 2. Workshop outline <ul><li>Overview of research findings from LLUK – the use of technology in initial teacher training </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas for helping teacher educators to keep up to date with new technologies </li></ul>
    3. 3. Lifelong Learning UK <ul><li>Sector Skills Council for the lifelong learning sector </li></ul><ul><li>Research and labour market intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Standards and qualifications </li></ul><ul><li>Developed the teacher training qualifications PTLLS, CTLLS & DTLLS </li></ul>
    4. 4. The use of technology in initial teacher training <ul><li>Small piece of research undertaken by LLUK </li></ul><ul><li>Involved interviewing people in all the CETTs and 9 ITT providers </li></ul><ul><li>Looked at use of technology in the content and delivery of ITT </li></ul>
    5. 5. Key findings <ul><li>The use of technology is embedded across the curriculum – we are perhaps now moving away from the concept of ‘e-learning’, just as we don’t talk about ‘book-learning’ now </li></ul>
    6. 6. Key findings <ul><li>New pedagogies are evolving as teacher educators actively reflect on developments to ensure that course content and delivery remains current </li></ul>
    7. 7. Key findings <ul><li>But there is variation in the levels of confidence in using technology for learning in individuals and providers </li></ul>
    8. 8. Key findings <ul><li>Many people are using new technologies with their learners but are not always reflecting on their pedagogical applications </li></ul>
    9. 9. Key findings <ul><li>Consequently there is no across-the-board consensus among ITT providers about what constitutes effective use of technology in learning delivery. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Key findings <ul><li>There is a tension between trying to be at the cutting edge of technological change, and finding that sometimes we are preparing teachers/tutors to use programmes and tools that are not available to them in a provider context. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Key findings <ul><li>LLUK’s technology application guides (which replace the e-learning standards) are an appropriate approach but companion materials need to be produced which show practitioners how to use the different tools referred to </li></ul>Download the guides here:
    12. 12. It’s not just in FE! <ul><li>Everyone in the lifelong learning sector is grappling with these issues. </li></ul><ul><li>We held an online discussion and symposium event on 19 th March to discuss how technology is changing the way we teach & learn </li></ul>
    13. 13. What did we discover? <ul><li>It’s not about the technology! </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not as much about a new skill-set being needed as a mind-set </li></ul>
    14. 14. What are the needs of the workforce? <ul><li>Attitudes and behaviours </li></ul><ul><li>A new mind-set – recognition of the need to change and willingness to change </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility and adaptability </li></ul><ul><li>Resilience </li></ul>
    15. 15. What are the needs of the workforce? <ul><li>Skills </li></ul><ul><li>Digital life skills </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring and coaching skills </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitation skills </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to manage online identities/online presence </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to evaluate new technologies for their use in teaching and training </li></ul><ul><li>Curating online content made by </li></ul><ul><li>others </li></ul>
    16. 16. So what are the barriers to addressing these needs? <ul><li>Fear – fear of ‘getting it wrong’, ‘breaking it’, ‘looking stupid’ </li></ul><ul><li>Risk aversion – ‘it’s dangerous’ </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of awareness of what is available </li></ul><ul><li>Not having the connectivity or kit to use the tool </li></ul>
    17. 17. Thinking differently <ul><li>What if, instead of saying ‘you should be able to do this?’ we said ‘what do you want to do today?’ </li></ul>
    18. 18. Responding to these findings <ul><li>LLUK intends to undertake some research into new and emerging pedagogies to inform the next review of the teacher training qualifications </li></ul>
    19. 19. Any questions? <ul><li>View and download this presentation here: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    20. 20. This is where you come in! <ul><li>LLUK intends to develop, with partners and practitioners in the sector, a series of resources which outline different technological tools and their pedagogical applications – using our technology application guides as the basis </li></ul>
    21. 21. CPD idea: “Non- smoking breaks” <ul><li>Sharing tools and websites that you find useful over a short coffee break </li></ul>
    22. 22. Developing useful resources for you <ul><li>Where do you currently get your information from on new tools for teaching & learning? </li></ul><ul><li>In what format would you like to see links to resources to help you use technology in learning delivery? </li></ul>Please add your thoughts to:
    23. 23. Contact me <ul><li>Email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Follow me @vahva on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>My blog: </li></ul><ul><li>Join the Learning 3.0 network: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>