TECHNOLOGIES, INNOVATION AND TEACHERS’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: ASK THE STUDENTS WHAT TODAY’S TEACHERS NEED TO LEARN!
International educational policies and recent strategic plans have showed a strong need to rethink and intensify teachers’ professional development, particularly in the area of technology adoption and in the technology-enhanced learning environments implementation (Kozma, 2008). Research evidence is that the nearly 30% of the investment made in reinforcing IT equipment and Internet connections in schools, should be held for Teachers’ training and professional development (TTPD) programs; however, international comparative reports show a percentage not higher than 9% on the financial investment made in teachers’ professional development initiatives (Gooler, Kautzer & Knuth, 2000).
Yet, more important than the number of supported initiatives developed in teachers’ training, is its quality, adequacy and effects (both to the context and to the public). In this domain, reality corroborates that the underlying theoretical models, the methodological and pedagogical approaches, the content covered, and the resources and tools employed in those programs tend to be based on old paradigms. Therefore, little echo can be found in those programs from the ebullient era of Web 2.0, which is the reality where today’ s students move, meet, play and learn.
In order to identify what is, in fact, useful, relevant and essential for today’s teachers to learn in the area of technology integration and ICT competences, this research takes as participants an educational agent, whose opinions are rarely taken into consideration on the subject: the students.
Based on two concerning facts (i) technologies, as social artifacts, are present on students’ everyday life and that (ii) technologies are usually absent in teachers’ everyday practices, this research aims to understand, from the students’ point of view, what competences (knowledge and skills) emerge as more urgent to consider and integrate in TTPD programs for educational technologies integration.
Based on qualitative methods for data collection and analysis, an exploratory study was conducted with 40 10th grade students from both private and public Portuguese schools. Five focus group interviews were developed, focusing on five different dimensions or sub-categories: a) tools and applications mastery, b) use efficiency, c) professional competences, d) training and e) teaching in the XXI century. Students’ responses provide remarkable information for rethinking national and international teachers training programs, relevant for both in-service and pre-service training.
Using Portuguese students inputs, this communication tries to contribute with relevant information for universities, schools, researchers, educational stakeholders and policy makers in the domain of teachers’ ICT training, specifically regarding the urgent need for schools’ modernization, as a requirement for building an educational system that truly takes into account and responds to both today’s and future students needs.