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8 Promising Technologies for Teacher Professional Development

By Wayan Vota on October 21, 2020

teacher training technology

The case for better in-service technology-assisted teacher professional development in low-income countries is compelling. A major push factor is the shortage of the skilled teachers needed to extend universal access to quality education. Both recruitment and the upskilling of current teachers are essential to achieving quality universal education.

In response to these pressures, technology-assisted professional development constitutes a means to improve the skills of both established and newly trained teachers in places where the quality and quantity of teachers are insufficient. The need for innovative solutions to improve education in conflict and crisis situations presents another push factor.

In Technology-supported professional development for teachers: lessons from developing countries, the authors explored eight promising technologies that can contribute to powerful professional learning for teachers in low-income and fragile states, including:

1. Audio learning

The guidance reminds readers that some older technologies have strong evidence of impact. In particular, it highlights the power of interactive radio and pre-recorded audio content. There is clearly a danger that the emphasis today on mobile phones will overshadow the value of other older technology, such as radio.

2. Video

Technological developments have made the creation of inexpensive film of classroom practice much easier using a camcorder, camera, or smartphone for filming. Such material offers interesting opportunities for personal and peer- to-peer reflection on teaching performance. Video has the potential to provide teachers with exemplars of good pedagogical practice in authentic contexts.

3. Open Educational Resources

OER and other digital materials via tablet, smartphone, laptop can provide teachers with a great wealth of materials for self- study and collaborative peer reflection. It can be used either online or offline.

4. Computerised student testing

Providing repeated ‘real-time’ information about student academic performance, through online testing, is potentially a powerful way of demonstrating to teachers the impact of new pedagogical approaches: ‘If teachers in fragile settings could receive objective information/ data on their own teaching performance over a period of time, then this could further enable them to take control of their own learning and increase their own likelihood of achieving quality standards.’

5. Computers in schools

There is very little evidence to suggest that IT rooms in schools—where there is a concentration of school computers— have a positive impact on student outcomes. However, these IT rooms represent an underutilised resource in terms of teacher professional learning through downloading materials, online coaching relationships, social media, online forums and participation in online courses.

6. Mobile phones

As yet there is still little conclusive proof of impact but mobile phones have much promise. They are ‘cost effective, portable, easy to operate, and many offer web browsing’. As technology develops further the value of mobile phones for professional learning is likely to increase.

7. Online communication

Platforms such as Skype provide scope for inexpensive virtual coaching, although currently this depends upon a reliable internet connection, which excludes many teachers in remote and low-income settings.

8. Serious gaming

One intervention that has potential but has been almost entirely ignored is the concept of the serious computer game. Such games could be used to explore professional challenges in a particularly engaging way.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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