TACKLING THE CHALLENGES OF THE 21ST CENTURY CLASSROOM: THE PERSPECTIVE OF AUSTRIAN TEACHERS
Graz University of Technology (AUSTRIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The current changes in society, like effects of globalisation and the growing importance of modern information and communication technology (ICT) pose enormous challenges for the new millennium and especially for the educational system. To survive in this increasingly complex world and to be effective in the 21st century, young people need to apply and to develop a wide range of competences related to information, media and technology with a strange focus on skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. In imparting those skills educational institutions play a central and crucial role in terms of serving the transmission of knowledge for a world built on information as well as learning how to learn in preparation for a lifetime of change. In order to take on these new long-term challenges many European countries begun to develop and implement educational standards formed on the theoretical underpinnings of PISA, a programme elaborated by the OECD aiming to prepare students to become lifelong learners focusing on the acquisition of wider knowledge and skills necessary for full participation in society. Thereby using new technologies open up huge opportunities for improving teaching and learning in the classroom. In order to advance their use in the classroom, Austria has begun to promote several initiatives that support teachers in implementing e-teaching and e-learning in their everyday teaching situation. Despite the implementation of educational standards as well as several ICT initiatives, the educational system legs behind in terms of mastering digital age challenges.
To obtain up-to-date information on how teachers tackle their teaching in the 21st century, a questionnaire-based study was conducted in four European countries, i.e. in Austria, England, Germany, and Norway. This investigation has been carried out within the scope of NEXT-TELL (www.next-tell.eu), a European initiative addressing the challenges of future school education, aims at supporting teachers in using modern technologies in the classes, linking various technologies with each other, and benefiting from synergies. Another aim of this project is to support formative assessment processes and the aligned teaching with smart planning, teaching, and assessment technologies. The major purpose of this study was on the one hand to gather information about the current status quo of ICT in schools and teaching practices by analysing how teachers currently plan their lessons, assess students and give feedback to them. On the other hand there was a strong focus on exploring obstacles and barriers to the use of ICT in teaching and learning environments. In this paper, we report the results of the Austrian sample, which comprised 22 teachers in total.
Although there is a widespread awareness of the effectiveness of ICT, several challenges and barriers, such as lack of time, lack of technical resources, lack of competence, and/or lack of pedagogical understanding, could be identified that prevent teachers from successfully implementing ICT in their teaching and learning. How these challenges can be broken down by NEXT-TELL as well possible implications for the integration of ICT into the classroom are discussed in more detail.
Keywords: 21st century skills, educational standards, technology-enhanced learning, blended learning, information and communication technology.