By Bob Harrison

The potential for transforming learning using digital technologies, while well developed in some areas, is being held back by teacher trainers' own lack of knowledge. They are “often not aware of the learning potential of key technologies or are not confident in their use”. That's a key finding of an evaluation of a new report "ICT in ITT [Initial Teacher Training]" by Wolverhampton University.

Since 2003 the Training and Development Agency for Schools has offered support for ICT in ITT costing more than £20 million, and more than 13,000 trainee teachers have benefited. However, the researchers found that some training organisations felt they were “unaware of the potential benefits to practice of ICT” although they also found that individual trainee teachers did progress - and at a faster rate - than the trainer organisation.

“The capacity for change within the ITT provider is a critical factor,” said Karl Royle, a researcher from the University of Wolverhampton. And this, in part, “accounted for in the trainers' willingness and their organisation’s approach (or resistance) to change”, he added.

There was some limited evidence of impact upon pupils and schools, and approaches that appeared effective were ones that “drew on pupils’ digital habits, used ubiquitous technology and supported their desire to voice their views and create their own content”.

Disappointingly there was only limited evidence of trainees being able to act as significant change agents in schools but this was affected by the “willingness of the schools to be open to, and accommodate, new approaches”, the researchers found.

As the government announces the details in its plans for 21st century schools, the report gives some valuable indicators for the successful implementation of similar initiatives. Conditions for success include:

  • Status of the technology and ownership;
  • Organisations' capacity for innovation;
  • The degree of alignment between the innovation and the needs and concerns of individuals and organisations.

This is a critical issue according to Karl Royle: “Despite the good practice evidenced within the research, if we are going to create 21st century learning we need to spread a culture of innovation within the majority of teacher training providers and schools, otherwise the transformational potential of technology for learning will not be fully realised.”

More information

Copies of the "ICT in ITT" full report is now available from the CeDARE Reports website

Bob HarrisonBob Harrison is an education consultant who works with the National College for School Leadership, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency and Toshiba UK. He gave evidence to the committee of inquiry.
Bob Harrison's blog is on the Futurelab Flux website

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