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Professional development of teacher educators: The eChange Project example.
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, Faculty of Education, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA

Abstract

Professional development of teacher educators: The eChange Project example. Dr Sandra Schuck, Faculty of Education University of Technology, Sydney

The paper will discuss a project ongoing in the Faculty of Education at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) located in the state of New South Wales in Australia. The Faculty of Education at UTS has responsibility for two major areas: adult education and teacher education. The eChange Project is a professional development project, coordinated by the author, for faculty staff to develop and support their use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in appropriate ways in their teaching.

Recent literature on the use of ICT in education indicate that most education faculties are not using the technologies to their full potential and that academics in these faculties often exhibit a lack of confidence about ways of implementing such technologies in appropriate and authentic ways. The eChange Project has the task of supporting Faculty of Education staff to develop their practices in the area of ICT and pedagogy. The project started in 1999 and is ongoing. This paper will focus on the particular challenges and context of the Project in the teacher education area.

At the start of the project academics in teacher education in the Faculty of Education, UTS, appeared to fall into two major groups: the first was a group of academics who had been early adopters of new technologies and who frequently experienced frustrations in their attempts to either incorporate these new technologies into their teaching or to transform their teaching through the new technologies. Administrative structures, policies and practicalities often posed barriers to the developments initiated by this group.

The second group were academics who in general, had little knowledge of how to incorporate new technologies into their teaching in effective ways and who lacked confidence to explore possibilities with ICT. Their major use of ICT was for their own email and internet usage. This group did not see value in the use of new technologies for their teaching or were quite unfamiliar with them. As the faculty was undergoing a large amount of change with respect to its staffing, resistance to new and seemingly untested uses of technology, and to the accompanying time demands was high.

A contextual factor which highlighted the importance of professional development for teacher educators in the appropriate use of ICT was that the major employer of graduates of the teacher education programs, the NSW Department of Education and Training requires certain competencies in ICT from graduates that they employ. Further it is assumed that these competencies will be embedded in the subjects in which they are appropriate. This requirement points to an urgent need for teacher educators to be able to use ICT appropriately in their teaching, and importantly, to teach their students how to incorporate ICT into their teaching.

The eChange project consequently offered two major areas of support: ·firstly, to assist early adopters of new technologies to have a forum in which to reflect on thoughtful use of the technologies and to remove barriers limiting their progress, ·secondly, to encourage, support and facilitate appropriate use of ICT by faculty members who are not doing so.

This paper will share the understandings the author has developed about professional development in the area of ICT, and show how those understandings have led to various achievements by the eChange project. The project is based on theoretical underpinnings drawn from the literature on change management and also from research findings gained by the author in a project examining professional development related to ICT in New South Wales schools.

The change literature suggests that change needs to be both top-down and bottom-up (Scott, 1999). The support of the Dean and management of the faculty was essential for the project in two ways: the project needed resourcing and secondly, the Dean's approval and encouragement to participate in the professional development activities offered by the Project also were important in raising participation. The other aspect of change management alluded to above, suggests that change cannot merely be imposed from above, but needs to be developed from the bottom. This knowledge led to various strategies being used by the author, and a colleague who shared coordination of the project in its first eighteen months. The strategies emphasised collegiality, pedagogy and warmth and acceptance. The fact that the coordinators of the project were academics rather than technical experts was an important factor as staff who had little knowledge of the technologies but were very informed about good pedagogy appreciated the emphasis and direction that the coordinators gave the professional development. The project focused on how the technology would enhance teaching and learning rather than what the technology could or could not do. Technological jargon was not used at all, and the coordinators and the academics shared a common language.

The paper will discuss the strategies that worked in the Project. Innovative activities that were developed in the Project will be shared in the presentation. Finally the challenges that still lie ahead for teacher educators involved in teacher education will be discussed and some suggestions for future directions will be given.

Citation

Schuck, S. (2002). Professional development of teacher educators: The eChange Project example. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 716-720). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved April 11, 2021 from .

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