Is learning technology a turn-off for older teachers?


I believe that with well-organised and context-specific in-service teacher training programmes, all teachers can be converted to integrating technology efficiently into their teaching. Since increasing numbers of teachers will be expected to teach “digital native” students very soon, technology integration seems to be an inevitable necessity for all of them – no matter how old they are or how many years of experience or training they have.

It has, however, been observed that teachers experience a variety of problems in integrating technology into their lessons, and that the in-service training to improve their techno-pedagogical competences is inadequate. The current in-service training models have also been reported having some problems due to insufficient time and space, and the inadequate matches of the content of these programmes to meet the needs of the target audience. For instance, Turkey’s state-run Fatih Project aims to integrate technology into all levels of education, for all subjects, all over the country. Most of the country’s state schools have as a result been equipped with the necessary technological infrastructure: students were given tablets and classrooms were provided with smart boards. However, since the content for these tools was not ready and, more importantly, neither were teachers ready to integrate the technology into their teaching (let alone to originate  for the new digital platforms),the project has been a failure so far. Teachers’ psychological readiness, their concerns for their possible roles in the classroom as well as their prejudices against using technology should also be counted as additional factors for the ineffectiveness of the project.

I believe there is a need to transform the in-service training models to better equip teachers with the necessary techno-pedagogical competencies they clearly need. It is obvious that with the current ones such a transformation is not possible and a new framework is necessary. Most of the current in-service teacher training programmes aim to address a wide range of teacher groups, in a wide variety of contexts. Obviously each of these teachers’ needs will differ from each other. In most cases the trainers are unfamiliar with these teachers’ needs and their specific contexts but the type, length and style of training should be set according to  teachers specific needs. For instance, teaching English to a group of young learners requires completely different methods from teaching English to an academic group of adults.

Building a bridge between pre-service and in-service teacher training seems to be a solution to the problems of the current teacher training models. For our country, the cooperation of Education faculties, the only institutions responsible for training teachers in the country, and the Ministry of Education seems one of the most efficient solutions. Teaching practicum processes during which pre-service teachers are prepared for their future jobs by applying their theoretical knowledge in actual classroom settings with the guidance of experienced teachers could be used as a perfect medium for such a collaboration. A solution might be a reciprocal mentoring scheme. For example, pre-service teachers – who are already equipped with techno-pedagogical competencies) can mentor their in-service teachers (who are already familiar with the needs of their learners in a real context) and these groups cooperate in learning from each other. Such a reciprocal mentoring model can be used as a solution by not only requiring extra time and place but also by giving individual support to both groups of the teachers and addressing their needs.

To sum up, while the reciprocal mentoring model is generally used in the business world, especially in the use of technology, I believe this model can perfectly fit into helping teachers become equipped with the necessary techno-pedagogical knowledge, all over the world.

Share your innovation for a chance to win the Pearson ELT Teacher Award
We’ve just launched a new Pearson ELT Teacher Award! Aiming to recognise and celebrate teachers, the Award is open for any English teacher who has developed innovative ways of teaching in their classrooms. You may have used technology or digital tools in unique ways or re-invented traditional tasks. The Award encourages teachers to enter who can show that their ideas are not only unique but have improved learner engagement, motivation and success.

Prizes include all-expenses paid trips to IATEL or TESOL. Deadline for entries is 1st January, 2017 so enter or nominate a teacher today!

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