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4.1 Professional Development and Digital Literacy

41 teachers learningThe ‘professional teacher’ according to Darling-Hammond (2008)  is ‘one who learns from teaching rather than one who has finished learning how to teach’; and the role of teacher education to ‘develop’ teachers’ ‘capacity to inquire systematically and sensitively into the nature of learning and the effects of teaching’. (Darling Hammond 2008: 94). The term ‘teacher education’, preparing staff for a professional role as a reflective practitioner, is often used interchangeably with ‘teacher training’ in the context of routes into and preparation for teaching. However teacher education in terms of professional development in the UK can be divided into three separate stages:

  • Initial teacher training / education: these include academic or training courses that students take at undergraduate or postgraduate level. They involve school-based experience to develop subject knowledge and pedagogical understanding of how subjects can be taught before entering the classroom as a qualified teacher. Training is offered through university or school-based course. (A number of accredited providers have been approved to offer an assessment only route (DfE 2012)).
  • Induction This stage is the process of providing training, guidance and support during the first few years of teaching or the first year in a particular school. In the UK this is a three-term period for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and is usually completed in a single school year.
  • Teacher development or continuing professional development (CPD) is the in-service process for practising teachers. Both induction and teacher development.

Embedding digital literacy into all three aspects of professional development can be a challenge for educators and trainers; the understandings and experiences that learners and their teachers have, and need, are rapidly changing as technology itself changes (Davies & Merchant, 2009) (see also 3.4 Barriers and Enablers). Teachers and tutors are routinely expected to combine the development of students’ subject knowledge with the ability to use technology safely and effectively (Hague and Williamson 2009) and at the same time encourage students and teachers to use the technology creatively within their practice. However teachers’ use of digital technology is inconsistent and many continue to focus on the passive delivery of information with PowerPoint or interactive whiteboards (Selwyn 2011)

The curriculum for initial teacher training programmes focuses  on a number of themes, linked to the qualified teacher status (QTS) standards: knowledge and understanding of the relevant national curriculum programmes of study for your subjects; planning and preparing lessons and setting learning objectives; managing classes, promoting good behaviour and minimising disruptions ; awareness of the professional values expected of teachers, in their attitudes and behaviour towards pupils and colleagues; and using information and communication technology effectively. (DfE 2012).

The UK is relatively well provided for in terms of computers per pupil and access to other digital media. Research into new Web 2.0 technologies shows innovative use which contributes to digital literacy such as creative writing in online synchronous communication (Merchant 2005), collaborative wikis (Carrington 2009) and podcasting (Lee, McLoughlin et al. 2008). Educators in all phases of education have developed ‘strategies’ and ‘learning opportunities’ (Bruce 2004) to incorporate digital literacy into their teaching and the use online professional  networks and OERs to share this expertise and provide support have increased the opportunities for all teachers to develop a digitally literate approach to teaching at all levels of their professional development.

For References see 4.1.1 References / Links to Further Information

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