Under the Czech education system, information technologies have been used to but a limited extent so far. A reason may be seen in tight funding available for up-to-date ICT devices acquisition. Another reason, far more serious in my opinion, lies in the fact that teachers themselves often lack the skills to be able to employ the technology as quality users.
The key is the ability, knowledge and skill to choose suitable and effective teaching strategies (or their combinations) that integrate reasonable and targeted incorporation of and support by information technologies in the education process, with particular regard to mathematical and reading literacy.
The significance of incorporating digital technologies in instruction
Approach to teacher's pedagogic work
Teacher preparation for instruction
Forms and options of digital technology incorporation
The obstinate situation, where still younger children and pupils keep in nearly permanent contact with information technologies, while teachers remain for years limited to the traditional instruction methods and forms, is no longer tenable. Obviously, technologies have become everyday part of children's and pupils' livesto the extent corresponding to their interests and possibilities. For practical reasons, school, or, the current education process should not and actually cannot keep out of the developments. The significance of the digital technologies in teaching is undebatable. They enable swift access to the wealth of information and, where sensibly used, boost the development of essential skills,most importantly those of mathematical and reading literacy, combined with information literacy.
The above facts necessitate provision of both technology user and, in particular, professional methodological a didactic support to teachers.
The traditional approach is based on a long-established teaching process concept:
a)Explanation/demonstration – communication and delivery of ready information;
b)Exercise – remembering, practising model procedures, fixation through tasks and exercises (their form and contents reflecting the essence and goals of the respective subject/field);
c)c) Verification/testing – identification of the amount remembered of the matter (facts) presented by the teacher, of the accuracy of reproduction or imitation of the facts, and, the ability of practical application in assigned tasks or exercises;
d)d) Evaluation/grading, where the accuracy and level of imitation and reproduction, rather than comprehension and understanding, becomes the subject of such evaluation.
This approach is then symptomatically reflected in the digital technology application or utilisation levels, i.e. such use lacks both systematic and systemic qualities and it often fails to have any correspondence with the overall instruction process concept.
The contemporary approach, both desirable and needed in our days, corresponds with the principles of the constructivist model, with the experience and activity based pedagogy and, as such, it is:
a) Based on pupil real-life experience, with the teaching approach being built further upon it;
b) Focused on steering pupils to 'live through' their own learning process, while respecting pupils' own amount of experience and their personal disposition;
c) Focused on the development and fixation of the pupil key competencies relevant to the branch;
d) Taking the teacher no longer as a figure dominating the teaching process through her or his own deliveries and activities but rather through being an organiser and guide along the learning process who motivates pupils to mutual communication, cooperation, search of solutions, reasoning, presentations etc.
Such approach to instruction requires both quality technical proficiency in digital technology skills, as well as securing of methodological and didactic parameters of the teaching process, as an essential component of the process. For that sake, itenables to gear in a wide range of multifaceted digital technology devices in a reasonable and efficient way (interactive whiteboards, tablets, smartphone etc.).
Teacher preparation for instruction
If the teacher decides in favour of a contemporary teaching approach, it means she or he commits to it. Consequently, the teacher preparation becomes the most important and most challenging portion of her or his pedagogic job, requiring him or her to simultaneously prepare both the lesson contentsand its technological setup.
During the preparation, the teacher has to consider multiple principles,such as:
a)Acknowledge that pupils have actually amassed a lot of life experience which should serve as a springboard for the instruction concept;
b)Keep the instruction goals in mind (both in terms of the particular subject and general upbringing – key competencies), while she or he must be certain about them;
c)Know various teaching strategies (and master them in practice, including their combinations) and be able to apply them to the instruction goal, topic and curriculum content;
d)In relation to the foregoing, choose the ICT means to be included in class – functionally, reasonably and, above all, in a consistent synergy with the technological procedure of the lesson;
e)Design the entire lesson scenario consistently as motivating for pupils, in order to enable them :
their own 'living through' the learning process in the amount and quality as adequate to their personal disposition (intellectual autonomy),
communication and cooperation,
participation in problem solving,
presentation of results and reasoning – discussion; and
f)Design the lesson scenario, while being aware of her or his role of an organiser and guide, rather than a 'wisdom bearer'.
The foregoing principles are closely tied to the choice of either a single or multiple ICT device type(s) that warrants its/their reasonable, functional and efficient use at separate stages of the teaching process, according to the following pattern:
WHAT Which particular device(s),
WHYWhat I intend to achieve in order to meet the instruction goals,
WHENAt which stage of the process,
HOWFor what does it serve as a follow-up, what does it develop further or forerun , and what will follow up.
The choice and use of the ICT devices is subject to the instruction goal and plan, current aim and the particular process scenario.
a)Tablets may serve a means to
swiftly distribute pupils into pairs or groups
solve problem tasks aimed at individuals, pairs or groups
present and give reasons of solutions
teachers to enable them to monitor and verify the entire process of solutions by pupils who work as individuals, pairs or groups
make records of the solutions to tasks, of the spelling exercises and notes for follow-up work
run information searches on the Internet, evaluate and use the outcomes
b) Interactive (IA) whiteboards may serve a means to
demonstrate and assign tasks, whether templates or tasks to be graded
present, discuss and provide reasons, whether arranged as group-based or general
amalgamate and practice the curriculum
run information searches on the Internet, evaluate and use the outcomes (images, descriptions, videos)
work with instruction applications
Digital technologies offer possibilities contributing to the improved efficiency of the teaching process and its variety. With their help, the instruction dynamics may be effectively and reasonably modified, and its customised profile enhanced, while they enable focused support of pupil inner motivation , their improved attention and active participation levels.
One of the ICT strengths is the ability to mutually interlace or connect, within a single instruction unit, as in particular reflected between mathematical and reading literacy.