Description of an Experience
Today I read an article titled ‘ICT in English Schools: Transforming Education?’ In this article, Yang (2012) argues that ICT use in schools has not had a transformative impact on teaching and learning. The use of ICT as a learning tool has long been acclaimed as a catalyst for educational transformation, however while such use promises transformation in supporting teaching and learning, evidence suggests that progress is limited in both primary and secondary schools. While use of ICT in teaching subjects across the curriculum is increasing, good practice remains uncommon and the range of uses remains fairly limited and teachers rarely realise the full benefits of technology in supporting learning. Yang suggests that, “this lack of transformative use of ICT may ultimately result from a lack of understanding of what educational transformation using ICT truly implies” (p. 101).
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Prior to engaging with this course, I had a very limited understanding of what educational transformation using ICT involved and why it was important. This course has expanded my understanding of the different ways ICT can be used in the classroom, for example ICT can be used as replacement, amplification or transformation. Although I found the concept of educational transformation using ICT difficult to understand initially, I now understand that it involves using technology to invent new ways of teaching and learning. For example, asking students to use ‘Word’ to write a story is not educational transformation using ICT. This is an example of the increasing use of ICT in the curriculum, however in this example ICT is being used to replace traditional ways of teaching and learning. In contrast, asking students to use ‘Powtoon’ to create an animated video to tell a story, is an example of educational transformation using ICT. In this example new learning is made possible by the addition of technology. I therefore believe that all teachers would benefit from professional learning in regards to the RAT Framework and the different ways ICT can be used in the classroom.
Yang advocates that, “ICT is capable of supporting new ways of teaching and learning” (p. 102). There are many other perceptions of ICT’s transformational impact on education such as student-centered, constructivist and higher order learning, enriching learning experiences and possibilities, enhancing and transforming the curriculum, and raising standards. Why is it then, that limited progress has been made in schools in terms of transforming education with ICT? While these effects expected of ICT appear transformational, their occurrence depends on pedagogical changes that are no less significant.
Yang subsequently uses the concept of the ‘Sabre-Tooth Curriculum’ to describe these pedagogical changes and educational transformation using ICT. In the ‘Sabre-Tooth Curriculum’, climate change spurs a tribe to engage innovatively in transforming its traditional ways of life regarding hunting and shelter. This major social change sparks a heated debate among the tribesmen about the necessity of transforming education accordingly. The ‘Sabre-Tooth Curriculum’ is a metaphor for the underlying motive of educational transformation using ICT: to realign the knowledge and skills taught in schools with the types of knowledge and skills that students need to survive and compete in society. Yang uses the metaphor of the ‘Sabre-Tooth Curriculum’ to highlight the need for teachers to adopt new pedagogical approaches and new ways of working with ICTs, in order to transform teaching and learning so that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to compete and survive in the new knowledge-based society.
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In terms of the RAT Framework, this means that teachers need to engage innovatively with ICTs to reinvent what students are learning and how they are learning, rather than using ICTs to replace traditional ways of learning.
Yang, H. (2012) ICT in English schools: transforming education? Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 21(1), 101-118. doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2012.659886.