Ertmer – Reflections

Peggy Ertmer – Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs


Peggy Ertmer – Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs – The Final Frontier in our Quest for Technology Integration

I think that Peggy Ertmer’s article is a very good about how Teacher’s beliefs towards Technology impact its use in the classroom.

In Ertmer’s view, many schools have already put in place much of the procedures and technology in place – ie computers have been provided in classrooms, the classrooms are set to encourage a constructivist environment Classroom timetables schedules changed to allow for block classes or greater time with computers) and teachers have freedom in the curriculum (legislation, policies supporting use of computers).

The use of ICT has become so fundamentally important to the learning process that in 2003, the U.S Department of Education stated that ‘Technology is now considered by most educators and parents to be an integral part of providings a high-quality education’.

The Use of ICT in the Classroom

Is the use of ICT in the classroom widely accepted?

Ertmer believes that use of ICT in the classroom is mainly teacher oriented, where the teacher uses ICT as a support to their own teaching, rather than using ICT as the main focus of teaching to encourage higher order thinking. 

While teachers do use emails and the internet for web searches, very few teachers know how to use high tech tools as spreadsheets, presentation software or digital imaging to enhance their lessons.

From what i have seen on my class immersions so far, i think that there are teachers out there who do not incorporate the use of ICT in the classroom enough, or use ICT to its bare minimum effort.  in my observations of a year 7 class, ICT was used only to display power point slides or on Friday Afternoon in the library to do online maths assignments.

Teachers attitudes

But what about the teacher’s attitudes towards the use of ICT? Most teachers see themselves as encouraging a ‘constructivist’ learning model but it is a ‘mixed’ approach. Teachers will use ICT to where they believe that it should be applied.  ICT is seen as a support to teachers, rather than as the main focus.

The higher level use of ICT in the classroom requires a very important change in how teachers see pedagogy. But how far are teachers willing to embrace that change?

The change is not just about the use of ICT, the change is about teaching or pedagogical practices.

For example, the research by Becker suggests that those teachers that dominate learning (Teacher centred learning) are more likely to rely less on ICT in the classroom – low level use of technology.

But those teachers who employed a higher level use of ICT in the classroom  tended to be associated with student-centred or constructivist practices.

How do we breakdown the ‘deeply entrenched structures’ teacher centred practices that dominate even computer based classes?

Teachers Beliefs about ICT

Teachers attitudes towards ICT will be based on their own beliefs. Teachers may lack confidence in their own use of technology to apply it to the classroom.

There may be teachers who have been teaching for over 20 years who still use a over head projector for teaching. Will these teachers see the new technology as just a ‘fad’ or see their own personal pedagogies as still the correct way to teach – just as they were taught?

There may be teachers who have had bad experiences with technology or trying new things.  The belief system of teachers towards technology may be influenced by what they see outside the classroom.  Teachers will see new tecnology as negative if they have held biases or bad experiences.

For example, if a new school policy came into effect or a suggestion that teachers should provide their school emails to students to communicate. Would teachers who had bad experiences or negative views of facebook, twitter and other social networking sites – be likely to adopt the use of emails to communicate?

How do we change Teachers beliefs so fundamentally about the importance of ICT in the classroom, that it becomes impossible or ‘irreversible’ for Teachers to go back to old habits and routines about the use of ICT?

Changing Teacher’s perceptions of technology…

I think we have to accept that we cannot force anyone to change. If you try to force change or do not show why that change is relevant, the change will be rejected.

For change to happen, Ertmer believes thats existing beliefs about ICT must be laid out on the table and looked at.  Teachers must examine their own beliefs about ICT, their perceptions, their experiences and biases.  When these views are laid out and challenged, only then can teachers go forward in looking at new ways of applying teachnology.

Teachers must see ICT as ‘relevant’ to their teaching practices.  Ertmer believes that teachers should use technology in ways that are ‘consistent’ with their personal beliefs about the curriculum and instructional practices.

Training: For teachers to be use technology there needs to be more training which allows for teachers to use ICT at its most basic level and then develop their skills to gain confidence. Ertmer suggests that teachers can be encouraged to adopt ICT by building their confidence and competence.

Teachers can be encouraged by observing other teachers successful use of ICT. If teachers can see ICT being used succesfully in an environment, this would encourage them to use it in their own classroom.

Teachers can also be cncouraged to use ICT by discussing the use of ICT in professional communities, where teachers gather in conferences or training to discuss materials and new methods of using ICT.

Personal Thoughts….

I liked this article. It had some very valid points about why teachers do not use ICT.

The problem is that does ICT really ncessary for learning?

Learning is the ‘goal’ in the classroom. Yes, ICT can help students to learn. But is the ICT the main goal or is learning?

To what point or extent should technology be used in the classroom? As long as learning takes place – is the use of ICT the main goal or is it learning?  (I think Dominic made this point in the Second Class – there are still teachers out there that are using projectors and who will never change their views towards ICT).

Another problem with the article – it made assumptions about the school environment. Not every school (particularly Australia) has procedures and policies in place for the extensive use of computers.

On my class immersion, I noticed that the 5th lesson for the day (after lunch) on Friday afternoons was set aside for the year 7 class to do their maths in the library on the computers. The lessons were for only 45 minutes (minus 10 minutes set up / pack up time). So a total of 30 – 35 minutes for students. This did not include the 10 minutes when computers broke down or had to be rebooted because of anti-virus or other programs.


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