PREPARING TEACHERS FOR PRACTICING ICT AND E-LEARNING
There are two major paths towards raising teacher qualifications with respect to optimal integration of technology, i.e. by integrating ICT effectively within initial teacher education, and by offering in-service or further education for practicing teachers. Both alternatives should be applied to supplement each other.
Elementary training of PC skills for teachers is no longer a major task. More relevant topics are net pedagogy and methodology for applying the technology within curriculum, to integrate it for better learning. This requires particularly teacher trainers to be experienced, reflective and well trained in practical applications of ICT, thus practicing it in their everyday lectures and guidance. Many of the trainers are still not up to the required level.
To support necessary development of academic staff, teacher training institutions engage in relevant R&D projects. Pioneering of ICT in Norwegian teacher training has been focused in R&D projects, both nationally and internationally. Over the past decades this includes Norway-net with IT for Open Learning (NITOL) , European projects like (JITOL, 1992-94), Socrates projects like MECPOL (1996-98) and MENU (2001-03), and recent national programmes 1) .
The status of ICT in teacher training has changed gradually. Since all teacher education (TE) students now are expected to be well acquainted with network procedures, the use of the Learning Management Systems (LMS ), rules and regulations for communication on PCs and networks are to be practiced. To exploit ICT in their future work, there are e.g. master’s programmes on ICT in Learning, offered as flexible, blended learning.
Teachers who are already out in schools or universities have a constant need for professional development in order to keep up to their required level. New media, social software, learning strategies etc. are changing continuously. This is particularly true for professors and academic staff who are in charge of higher education and meant to be models for their students in future careers. Online programmes for in-service and upgrading of teachers, particularly univer¬sity and college staff, including teacher trainers, are being offered and tested in national and global settings. Two such courses are offered at master’s level, named, awarding 10 + 10 credits (European Credit and Transfer System - ECTS):
- E-teaching 1, basic online methodology and pedagogical principles for tutors (E-t 1)
- E-teaching 2, planning, designing and development of online courses (E-t 2)
The courses have been very well received. Reactions from course participants document both initial lack of competence in the field, and successful acquirement of new knowledge and skills. Jointly with United Nations University - Global Virtual University (UNU-GVU), two Norwegian universities, University of Agder (UiA) and Stord/Haugesund University College (HSH) have been running the courses during a 5 year pilot period, awarding formal credits and diplomas to academic staff who completed the course and exams. The University of Agder now offers the courses at an international level.
The above mentioned aspects and strategies will be discussed in the paper, with proper references.
1) Haugen, H., & Ask, B (2005). From R&D Project to Virtual Universities. In Howard, C., Boettcher, J.V., Justice, L., Schenk, K., Rogers, P.L., & Berg, G.A. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Distance Learning: Idea Group Reference. Hershey, PA