Why are some teachers more comfortable than others with the use of ICT to support teaching?

Why do some teachers let their students use ICT in the classroom more than others? And why do some participate more in professional development activities covering the use of ICT? The OECD suggests possible answers in the light of the results of the most recent international survey on teaching and learning (TALIS).

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In a serial number published online, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) unveiled this fall a data analysis devoted to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in student learning. These data were extracted from responses provided by approximately 260,000 teachers in 48 countries or territories that participated in theInternational Teaching and Learning Survey (TALIS) from 2018.

These data “provide valuable information to understand why some teachers are more inclined than others to let their students use ICT for projects or class work, and to explore the factors underlying teachers' participation in classroom activities. professional development covering the use of ICT in support of teaching. "

Unfortunately, Quebec teachers were not part of this large sample. However, it provides information that it would be wrong to do without. Although the survey ended in 2018 (data collection was carried out between September and December 2017 for participants from the southern hemisphere, and between March and May 2018 for the northern hemisphere), it nevertheless sheds light on interesting compared to what has been experienced in the world of education since March 2020. As we know, COVID-19 has forced several countries to rethink education by moving from the classroom to the home. According to the international organization, “the speed of this transition to online education has worked against students who do not have access to information and communication technologies (ICT) at home, who lack parental support, or who are not used to studying and learning on their own ”.

Why some teachers are more inclined to let their students use ICT in the classroom

The OECD study answers two main questions. At first, the researchers asked themselves why some teachers are more inclined than others to let their students use ICT for projects or class work. Before the health crisis, those who were most likely to "often" or "always" let students use ICT were those who, during their vocational training or recent studies, had themselves used ICT. However, there are also organizational considerations that lead teachers to encourage the use of technology. More than half of the countries participating in the survey confirmed the causality between the use of ICT and the encouragement supported by a school principal. This is particularly the case in the Netherlands, Japan, Chile and Italy, but much less in China, the United States or Alberta, Canada.

Why some teachers participate more in professional development activities covering the use of ICT

The other big question for TALIS concerns the reasons why some teachers are more likely than others to participate in professional development activities covering the use of ICT.

The report states that “according to data from the 2018 TALIS Survey, on average, the second most important professional development need among lower secondary teachers is the use of ICT in teaching support (18 % of teachers), while 4 in 10 of them had not participated in any professional development activity covering this dimension during the 12 months preceding the Survey (40 % of teachers) . "

Several variables are linked to the response.

The study claims that ICT use is higher among: 

  • teachers than among female teachers (62 % against 59 %);
  • experienced teachers compared to new teachers (61 % versus 58 %); 
  • science and technology teachers versus those who teach other subjects (64 % against 59 %);  
  • teachers with a permanent rather than a fixed-term employment contract (61 % against 56 %). 

Although some caution is in order in interpreting the results, the analysis seems to “indicate that the promotion of pre-service training programs covering the use of ICTs in support of education is a means of encourage teachers to continue participating in professional development activities aimed at maintaining and strengthening their capacity to integrate these new technologies into their teaching practices. A caveat, however: this could also indicate that these same teachers who have been made aware of the use of ICT during their training feel less comfortable integrating them into their teaching practices and are, therefore, more inclined to participate in professional development activities in this area.

One thing is certain, the use of ICT is at the center of the current repositioning of education. The figures released by TALIS 2018 show that the more educators have become aware of ICT during their initial training, the more likely they are to use them in their practice. And the more they have the support of their administration, the more they use them directly in the classroom, for the benefit of the students. 

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About the Author

André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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