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Patterns of ICT use in Australian schools by beginning teachers: The three Rs

Bate, F. and Maor, D. (2008) Patterns of ICT use in Australian schools by beginning teachers: The three Rs. In: 7th European Conference on e-Learning, 6 - 7 November 2008, Grecian Bay Hotel, Agia Napa, Cyprus pp. 82-89.

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Abstract

This paper explores findings from a West Australian study that examines the ways in which 35 beginning teachers use information and communications technologies (ICT) in their teaching. The educational policy environment in Australia explicitly supports ICT integration, and this is translated into targeted initiatives covering infrastructure, equipment, electronic learning materials and professional development. However, for all the energy expended to encourage teachers to use ICT, it seems that few teachers take full advantage of the significant opportunities that they present. A number of reasons have been posited to explain this, the most compelling of which are bound up with teachers’ skills in harnessing ICT and their pedagogical beliefs about teaching itself. In the spirit of Cuban’s (2001) investigation into teachers’ use of computers in the Silicon Valley, this study presents an in-depth examination of a cohort of teachers (2006 graduates) that are digitally literate and familiar with contemporary, student-centred theories of learning. It is suggested that these teachers may be likely to integrate ICT into their teaching in innovative ways, and the primary research question - to what extent is ICT integration, a feature of beginning teachers’ classroom practice? – is aimed, at least in part, at confirming or challenging this assertion. The study tracks these teachers through their first three years in the profession, gathering evidence through a mixed method approach that helps to understand the dynamic nature of participants’ beliefs about teaching and attitudes towards ICT within their socio-cultural context. As expected, the study has found that most participants are competent users of ICT. Participants also articulate pedagogical beliefs that aim to engage students in active meaning making. However, observations reveal that participants’ ICT competence and stated pedagogical beliefs do not necessarily translate into classroom practices that optimise the use of ICT for learning. For example, none of the participants have used Web 2.0 tools although most claim to value electronic communication and rapid publishing. Using a schema developed by Newhouse, Clarkson and Trinidad(2005) where ICT use is considered on a continuum from Inaction to Transformation, it is apparent that most participants are at early stages of development. There seems to be a mismatch between the ideals that participants hold to be important and their capacity to use ICT to help realise these ideals. The use of ICT has been limited to a combination of three Rs: reward, rotate and reinforce. These themes, which will interest teachers and education managers, are explored in this paper along with a consideration of how different socio-cultural settings impact on participants’ evolving pedagogical identities.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Publisher: Academic Publishing Limited
Copyright: 2008 The Authors
Conference Website: http://academic-conferences.org/ecel/ecel2008/ecel...
Notes: Appears In: Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on e-Learning Grecian Bay Hotel, Agia Napa, Cyprus 6-7 November 2008
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/8706
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