O. McGarr1, G. Gavaldon2

1University of Limerick (IRELAND)
2University of Alcalá (SPAIN)
The preparation of student teachers to utilise ICT as part of their teaching is a key goal of many teacher education programmes (Valtonen et al, 2015). As Tezci (2011) notes, ‘pre-service teachers are the teachers of the future. They are expected to integrate ICT into their future classroom activities’ (p. 484). Initiatives targeting ICT adoption have paid particular attention to teachers’ attitudes to technology since, as Albirini (2006) reports, a number of studies have shown that positive attitudes towards educational technology are, ‘major factors related to both the initial acceptance of computer technology as well as future behaviour regarding computer usage’ (p. 374). These studies frequently employ survey instruments to determine these attitudes, however, such approaches do not consider expressed attitudes as acts of compliance or indeed defiance. Neither do they capture the influence of past schooling experiences and issues of power that can influence student teachers’ responses.

Underpinned by a reflexive understanding of language, this study aimed to explore student teachers’ views of educational technology and in doing so examine how student teachers speak about educational technology. Situated within a post-structuralist paradigm and drawing on a discursive psychological framework, this study conducted one-to-one semi-structured interviews with twenty student teachers on entry onto pre-service teacher education master’s degree programmes in a Spanish University. The interview explored past ICT schooling experiences, their opinions on educational technology and their future plans to use ICT.

The study found that the majority of the student teachers (n=17) experienced some level of ICT usage however this appeared limited almost exclusively to teachers’ use in displaying information visually to assist explanations. When subsequently asked about their own views of ICT in teaching and learning most students’ expressed a positive attitude, however there were differences in their discourses around it. These discourses ranged from the need to equip students with important life skills, as demanded by an emerging digital society, to those that considered it as a resource to amplify existing teaching practices or enhance student learning. When asked to describe how they planned to use the technology in the future as part of their own teaching, the nature of planned use tended to reflect what they themselves had experienced.

The paper argues that the student teachers used the opportunity of the interview to express their allegiance to more traditional teaching practices. We argue that expressing a preference for ‘pen and paper’ or the ‘traditional’ blackboard is not necessarily a rejection of ICT but rather a preference for existing practices based on past experiences. As they had only recently enrolled on the programme they did not have the opportunity to explore potential uses of ICT in depth or to have their views of teaching and learning broadened. These interpretations points to the importance of teacher education programmes in both widening their understanding of the ways ICT can be used in education and challenging their initial attitudes towards ICT that they have acquired before entering the programme.