In the literature I felt that, despite opinion, there was a prevailing sense from all readings thatInformation Computer Technologies (from here on abbreviated to ICTs) have become an essentialcomponent of modern pedagogy. Moreover, I aligned myself with the view that ICTs are theinstigators of a supplanting brand of engaging and effective teaching revolutionising what it meansto be both teacher and student1. Sherry Hsi (2007), for example, captures this sense of culturalchange. She uses the term “the Digital Kid”; avid consumers of traditional media, as well aselectronic games and web based information (Hsi, 2007, 1). With such entrenched home-taughtpractice of synchronisation with these technologies, it is only logical for the modern teacher tobring ICT into the classroom to utilise these skill-sets for learning. Certainly there arecomplications involved, well documented by Hashemzadeh and Wilsons article, which will bediscussed later in my reflection. Despite this, the opportunities, I feel, are far too exciting andadvancing to pass up.Working as a High School English teacher, with two years of experience at a well performing andwell technologically resourced school, Killara High School, I have felt that ICT integration is veryrelevant for redefining my teaching practice. To give a sense of schools technological funding,each room had broadband access and a computer linked to a digital projector. The school hadequipped SMART Boards in half of the twelve rooms for each faculty block. In each facultywalkway was a television network showcasing school events and student activities daily. In myown practice I would routinely use ICTs; most commonly through a combination of videos andPrezzi in class instruction, BlogEd for group online discussion work and electronic homework, andthe internet for student-led research projects. For one class in particular, a low-performing Year 9boys class, I would daily use SMART Board activities to make literacy activities more engaging. Regardless of ability and age, the students at my school were avid users of computers. Theywere largely from socio-economic backgrounds where computer use was encouraged from a veryyoung age, which echo Hsis trend arguments. However, despite their obvious digital fluency, newdigital technologies always required a lot of explicit instruction across all classes at first, to showtheir value to students at this school. This I attributed to attitudinal change, reflected in Garlandand Noyes (2008) argument, that a demonstration of ease and effectiveness was essential forshowing students that they would want to want to begin to engage with the ICT (Garland & Noyes,2008, 195). Equally, Hsis article argued the need to make ICT relevant to the students (Hsi, 2007,1 Advocated most by Ron Oliver, Sherry Hsi and Shanti Divaharan.
10), so they would want to use the software past an initial stage of becoming familiar with theprogram - I was conscious of this when choosing which ICT and then demonstrating its relevanceto the students. Equally, it was clear from watching students at this school that digital media, suchas the internet, was stressed from home as a tool for educating. I rarely encountered studentsusing these resources for entertainment. However I could see how this could easily be otherwisewithout these values reinforced from home, such as in the criticisms of technology asserted inHashemzadeh and Wilson (2007), and DAngelo and Woosley (2007). Both articles show surveyresults suggesting technology can prove to be too much of a distraction for those students whodont view it as an informational tool (Hashemzadeh & Wilson, 603, DAngelo & Woosley, 465).Oliver (2002) highlights the teaching transition occurring in the classes stating, “Quality Educationhas traditionally been associated with strong teachers having high degrees of personal contact,”but that this is shifting however through the proliferation of ICTs “to more student-centredlearning settings.” (Oliver, 2002, 1). Further, he stresses that the era of information recall is over,like Bitter and Pierson do in their text. With the internets opportunity for large quantities ofinformation from a variety of sources (Oliver, 2013, 2, Bitter & Pierson, 2007, 3), students learn“...how information will be used rather than what information is.” (Oliver, 2002, 2), and societynow gears toward a “populace of synthesisers filtering divergent information into a cohesivewhole.” Therefore new pedagogies must be in place to “test the acquisition of these skills bystudents,” (Bitter & Pierson, 2007, 3). Teachers, like myself, should no longer dictate content butinstead mentor students in information evaluation skills, as they inquire and decide what ismeaningful. Olivers article, of all the articles listed for pre-reading, speaks to me the most for myown teaching practice, as I would like to move my typical class planning away from teacher-centred explicit instruction to student-centred information discovery and group knowledgeconstruction. As one past case example, for a Year 8 I had them do group presentations on books theywere reading in their spare time, as part of a larger literacy project within the English departmenttargeting reading. Over four lessons, the students were asked to research their story, author andthe conventions of the genre it belonged to. They storyboarded a video with this information. The
students used Animoto2 and chose images to complement their video from Flickr Commons 3.Students were then able to watch each others videos and directed to the class BlogEd4 account,where the students could discuss each others videos. After this they were instructed to commentonline on each others book choices for homework, they could say three positive and negativethings about three other students presentation and the information on the genre of novel theyhad presented in the videos. They were further encouraged to discuss a book if it took theirinterest. Outside of general chat about how they created their Animoto, this lead to a lot creativedebate about genre conventions and inspiration for students to try new novels. They then wrote aletter to a person in the class describing why they like to read their novel based on its genreconventions. After talking with the library staff these videos were formatted to be shown aroundthe school, in a daily hour slot on the faculty television network. It was an enjoyable activity,appreciated by the students for not being another didactic teacher-led set of lessons, in an area ofthe curriculum that should be student led inquiry. While this project was certainly in the vein ofstudent-centric learning advocated by Oliver, I feel more could be done generally to tailor classactivities to be more student-led. It is a lack of confidence and competency to develop units ofwork in this way that has stopped this so far.Bitter and Pierson (2007) state currently “... newer teachers, those with less than 5 years’experience, are no more likely to use technology than teachers who have been in the classroomfor twenty years” (Bitter & Pierson, 2007, 19). They suggest that on face value this appears to bean anomaly - it challenges the mainstream disciplinary attitude of ICT as an agent for changeembraced by young teachers, but they surmise it shows the situation is more complex thaninstitution’s simply having technological facilities and the optimism of their fledgling teachers(Bitter & Pierson, 2007, 19). With my personal experience within Killara High School, I am inclinedto agree with the authors point. I am reminded of the number of problematic concerns raised byDivaharan and Lim (2010), who discusses the issues of time, organisational support andprofessional development as a hindrance to integration. I can readily link these concerns to myown experience.2 An online video editing program, that is highly accessible to use – ideal for stage four students, for its ease and interactivity. Students add videos of themselves made, adding frames of text, images and musical scores (listed on the site) and the site compiles thevideo and adds visually interesting transitions (a hard thing to perfect for amateur video editors).3 Provides a gallery of online images that allow for common use, good for negotiating issues of image copyright.4 Department of Education and Trainings student blog site. A very useful resource.
The results of Divaharan and Lim’s Singaporean schools survey suggest that timeconstraints on teachers are a major hindrance to ICT integration. At Killara, where there was highculture of expectation and performance (driven by its desire to remain the leading comprehensiveschool in the state), I felt there was rarely time during free periods or even after school to activelyinvestigate new ICT strategies in the classroom, most time and goodwill filled by literacy projectsbeing pushed by the English department. Divaharan survey results demonstrate that teachersneed to be given time to achieve substantive integration and build a level of comfort andcompetency (Divaharan & Lim, 2010, 743). Another area of note in Divaharan and Lim’s article is inthe area of organisational support and professional development, Divaharan survey resultsdemonstrate that there needs to be a whole school principle-down focus on integrating ICT at aschool for it to be truly effective (Divaharan & Lim, 2010, 751). This was an area I felt lacked atKillara, that while the school was well technologically resourced, I felt the culture hadnt changedenough to see ICT truly shape curriculum construction across the faculties, with the exception ofthe PE department who had gone someway digitising all their lessons on PowerPoint. I felt thiswas the result of a general reluctance from teachers and heads of faculty, reminiscent of theadamantly chalk and talk economics teachers mentioned in Hashemzadeh and Wilsons article.Bitter and Legacy state that “...the power of technology in the end comes from well trainedteachers not well stocked classrooms (Bitter & Legacy, 2008, 7). The school did offer a “3 forThree” program, where teachers with existing knowledge about an ICT such as Moodle or Excelwould offer to train other teachers for an hour session after schools, and in exchange forattending three employees were entitled to a day off work. This program was only spread by wordof mouth and unofficial staff emails, asking for you day off after three sessions was activelydiscouraged by faculty heads. The principal, despite being very vocal about his ideals forenhancing teaching within the school, failed to mention digital literacies once during my two yearworking period.Hashemzadeh and Wilsons survey make an argument from students for keeping chalk and talklessons, for example their results suggest this type of instruction helps students to make logicalconnections between key pieces of information and feel more connected to their teacher(Hashemzadeh & Wilson, 2007, 603).5 I agree with their summary that chalk and talk method is5I felt that for a survey to be modelled purely on PowerPoint was going to lead to the responses from students theyhad (eg 43% of students claim to dose off during lectures). This is because PowerPoint, though widely recognised, isno longer an effective ICT; it is too under-stimulating, formulaic and slide-to-slide fragmentary to view. Even a internetprogram like Prezzi, offers similar slideshow like features but with a lot more fluidity and visual stimulating graphic.SMART Board functions equally offer more interactivity for students. I wouldnt consider using PowerPoint for youngeryear or low ability classes unless it was necessary, for fear of boring them too much.
not a wholly passive experience for the student. However their survey raises concerns, I feel liketheir anti-technology survey responses may be because the technology is not fully utilised by theirteachers6 – ultimately the quality of ICT integration is the real concern in classrooms. It is mydesire that my own ICT integration will transition beyond being a supplement to my traditionalteaching practices, towards the core of my regular lesson design. I wish to see my studentsbecome Olivers student-centric constructivist learners. Divaharan and Lim article asks pragmaticquestions of Oliver, Bitter and Pierson, and Hsis positive sentiments – but this simply prompts theteacher-reader to not assume this process will simply eventuate as a result of the changing times,but instead to creatively negotiate these barriers and actively pursue it.List of References:Bitter, G.G., & Pierson, M.E. (2007). Using technology in the classroom. Seventh Edition. Boston,MA: Pearson.DAngelo, J. and S. Woosley (2007). ‘Technology in the classroom: friend or foe.’ Education, 127:462-471.Divaharan, S. & Lim, C.P. (2010). ‘Secondary school socio-cultural context influencing ICTintegration – A case study approach.’ Australasia Journal of Educational Technology, 26: 741-763.Garland, K., & Noyes, J. (2008). ‘A review of changing attitudes towards computers in educationalsettings’, Leading Edge Educational Technology, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Hashemzadeh, N., & Wilson, L. (2007). ‘Teaching with the lights out: What do we really knowabout the impact of technology intensive instruction?’ College Student Journal, 41: 601-612.Hsi, S. (2007). Conceptualizing Learning from the Everyday Activities of Digital Kids,International Journal of Science Education, 29: 12, 1509 — 1529Oliver, R. (2002). ‘The Role of ICT in Higher Education for the 21st Century: ICT as a ChangeAgent for Education’, Proceedings of the Higher Education for the 21st Century Conference. Miri,Sarawak: Curtin University.6 The Hashemzadeh and Wilson survey was done in 2007, the technological possibilities (eg. PowerPoint) available at the time of this survey, and teacher knowledge of how to use different ICT software engagingly, is not what it is now. I also feel this is a very limited sample of specific group of university students, which affects the quality of their particular survey findings.