What the resource is:
The key component of this resource is a 60 page report (in pdf format) outlining the impact on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) of targeted funding to support developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In addition, the executive summary (15 pages) is available separately, and there is a short (2.5 minute) video overview, six video case studies with notes, a video summary of the case studies and two further documents for ITT providers aimed at supporting their planning and evaluation of TDA-funded projects.
The report is very accessible, clearly written and succinct, with key findings supported by quantitative and qualitative evidence. The video material is focused and professionally presented; the accompanying notes for each video (5-7 pages) providing further details of each case study and links to further relevant resources. The Project Planning and Evaluation booklets (20pp and 30pp) provide a set of manageable frameworks, models and tools arising from the evaluation, which are designed to assist providers in identifying the foci and evaluating the impact of future projects.
The aims of the resource:
The primary purpose of the resource is to share the outcomes of the evaluation of this quite specific TDA funding with the wider community, and also to share examples of effective practice. Aspects of the report, the case studies and the planning tools are designed to help ITT providers make more effective use of future funding by building on what has already been achieved.
Key findings or focus:
Overall, the report findings indicate that the targeted funding has been successful in raising awareness and in improving practice in the use of ICT in the 216 training providers who received funding. Through self-rating, providers reported tangible enhancements in trainers' and trainees' confidence with and use of ICT and, to a lesser extent, in the development of technology-based practices across institutions and schools. The greatest impact on both trainees' and trainers' knowledge and practice was noted in providers whose projects involved the greatest number of staff. The least significant impact was found to be among Employment Based ITT providers (EBITTs), particularly related to enhancing trainees' experience with new models of teaching with technology.
Projects involving the use of video, laptop computers, interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and virtual learning environments (VLEs) were generally reported to be the most successful in terms of enhancing practice and generating the most widespread involvement of trainees and trainers. Greater involvement and impact was noted where trainees saw the direct relevance of the content of a project on their classroom practice.
There is less evidence of the funding having a measurable impact on practice in schools. This is accounted for through variability in schools' ICT provision and their approaches to the use of ICT.
The report proposes a series of recommendations for future funding arrangements. Among these are:
- focusing funding on the localised needs of providers to enhance the sustainability of projects;
- more involvement of school-based mentors and ICT co-ordinators in projects;
- the mentoring and coaching of trainers and mentors to support wider dissemination and implementation;
- increased emphasis on funding for projects which involve ‘ubiquitous' technologies which have high take-up rates (e.g. video and multimedia).
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
The resources are attractively presented and relate well to the needs of the intended audience. The authors are based in an ITT provider (the University of Wolverhampton) and so have first hand experience of teacher training and ICT. Apart from some inevitable issues associated with an evaluative study which is sponsored by the same funding body and the use of self-rating scales, the report is well argued and has adopted a suitably cautious tone in the presentation of its findings. The evaluation tools, models and frameworks utilised in the study are derived from relevant and well-regarded pre-existing sources (Hooper & Reiber, 1995; Coburn, 2003; Fisher, Higgins & Loveless, 2006) and relate well to the context of ICT in ITT. The five-point e-maturity scale (Hooper & Reiber, 1995) will be readily familiar to those engaged in ICT evaluative research, the HEA Benchmarking and Pathfinder Project and to some extent, BECTA e-learning initiatives. The commentary is refreshingly realistic in terms of presenting factors which facilitate or inhibit successful project integration and more enduring impact. As a consequence, the recommendations and implications should provide the TDA with a clear agenda for targeting and managing the funding of subsequent project funding for ICT initiatives to help ensure maximum impact on knowledge and practice.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
Whilst the report and findings provide valuable contextual background information, the case studies, the two booklets presenting a pre-project planning tool and impact evaluation strategies will be likely to have the greatest impact on the existing and future practice of ITT tutors and mentors.
The case studies, which are presented in video format with accompanying information booklets cover: the use of VLEs to support training and self-assessment, video conferencing, digital cameras (video and still) and the provision of laptops for trainees. The videos are streamed online without a download facility and are designed for tutors and mentors, rather than for use with trainees. The case studies provide tutors and mentors with information about projects which have had a beneficial effect on the knowledge and practice of trainees. Apart from direct influence of sharing in others' practice, tutors will also gain an insight into the types of project which are likely to be the most successful, thus helping them when framing bids for future funding.
The booklet outlining the pre-project planning tool presents a readily accessible framework for identifying and clarifying the focus, and designing a project. The framework is designed to help a provider establish factors which might influence the likely success of a project based on the team's experience gained from evaluating past projects. These factors include; the status of the technology being introduced, the organisation's capacity for innovation and the project's alignment with the needs and concerns of individuals and teams.
The booklet on evaluation strategies (entitled, "The SO WHAT factor.....") sets out a rationale for evaluation and presents an overview of a series of frameworks and models relevant to the evaluation process for ICT-related projects. These are in-turn evaluated in terms of their applicability to the context of ITT. Furthermore, links are provided to a range of other evaluation tools and frameworks, thus enabling tutors engaged in future projects to select the approach most relevant to their needs.
The relevance to ITE students:
The report highlights the impact on ITT students/trainees of past projects, identifying those which have been the most effective in terms of developing students' confidence, competence and classroom practices. Although the report and resources are not directly relevant to their needs, students may be interested in the finding that those projects which were the most effective for trainees were those to which they could directly relate - i.e. those which were relevant to their perceived needs as prospective classroom practitioners.
Exploring the Use of ICT in ITT:
Digital Cameras in the Classroom:
Teacher Trainees: Learning and Teaching with Laptops:
The VLE Community:
VLE in Teaching and Learning:
VLE as a Digital Foundation:
Cross Case Study Summary:
Final Report Executive Summary
Richard (Rik) Bennett
Coburn, C. E. (2003) Rethinking Scale: Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change: Educational Researcher, 32(6), 3-12.
Fisher, T., Higgins, C., & Loveless, A. (2006) Teachers Learning with Digital Technologies: A review of research and projects. Bristol: Futurelab
Hooper, S., & Rieber, L.P. (1995) "Teaching with technology". In A. Ornstein (Ed.), Teaching: Theory into practice, (pp. 154-170). Neeham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.