Pedagogical beliefs and ICT Integration

Peggy Ertmer is a true believer. I mean she knows it’s hard to believe but…

In her 2005 article, she spends nearly 15 pages telling us that “teachers’ pedagogical beliefs” are related to their “technology practices”. It is probably noble to make the attempt but there are so many issues that the article is pessimistic. There is the issue of beliefs in general, teachers’ beliefs about pedagogy and how these flow from general beliefs, the fact that beliefs don’t need to always be connected with reality, the way people don’t even always act out of their beliefs (particularly in teaching), how resistant beliefs are to change and how these become connected with technology usage in schools. Well, I would strongly encourage Ertmer to hire a consultant if she ever plans to ever roll out ICTs in a classroom. I have one here.

At least, close to the end of the article, the most relevant statement in the whole discussion is made, “relatively few researchers have examined the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical beliefs and their classroom uses of technology.” In brief, we don’t know for sure if pedagogical beliefs make any difference to use of technology by teachers. A large share of the article is spent on recommending why and how teachers’ beliefs should be changed even though it has not been established that in fact it makes any difference.

I like Brown’s first words in his 2005 article. As he plans to challenge “some of the taken-for-granted assumptions about the potential of ICT in schools”. He is ready to rumble and he raises some of the concerns about the move toward revolutionary change advocated by those on the  “digital natives” side of the debate. His main concern is what he perceives to be a socio-political drive behind the intense push for ICT and changes in pedagogy in education. He describes what he calls a“neo-liberal/economic globalization” thrust behind this push.

Brown is not against the use of ICT in schools but he is just questioning the“neo-conservative” hidden agenda behind the growth of ICT in schools. He is really keen to start a “deeper intellectual debate” in the development of educational policy “before blind faith in the potential of the ICT-cloaked in the language of new ways of (e)learning-steers the teaching profession further away from the time-honored goals of education, that is, promoting equity, fairness and social justice.”

’The key point is that most politicians and policy-makers appear to be enamored with the seductive appeal of what ICT can do for us and they give little or no attention to the unknown and potential negative effects of what new digital technology might do to us. The overriding impression is that teachers should be embracing ICT rather than critically thinking about the way in which the new pedagogy acts as a language of persuasion to legitimize someone elses hegemonic agenda.”

A perfect example of his point to my mind is the industrial revolution. The economic benefits were significant for certain parts of society in the western world (and for the developing world today) but the social/cultural by-products were far from desirable. It is not alarmist to carefully consider the implications of ICT introduction in schools rather than to see negative consequences (that could have been avoided if more sober reflection had been entered into) and say “Oh sorry about that. Oh well, not to worry!”.

The sponsorship of a particularly slick presentation promoting ICT in education featuring comments from  world wide educational academic “heavy hitters” by Nokia is a matter of concern (Introduction to Technology and21st Century Learning). I wonder if Nokia is now in charge of educating people.

Meantime, Catholic schools in Sydney are happy to promote Apple and their latest product already by putting their library on Ipads. Should we see that as a matter of a concern or a real opportunity? Time will tell.

References

References
Ertmer, P.A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The Final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(4), 25-39.

Brown, M. (2005). The Growth of entreprise pedagogy: How ICT policy is infected by neo-liberalism. Australia Educational Computing, 20(2), 16-22.

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