From education to employment

Urgent need to equip teachers with 21st Century technology skills

Most newly qualifying teachers complete an in-service training programme in the use of technology to enhance learning and teaching but research by the Association for Learning Technology suggests that what they receive is far from effective.

When, with the support of the Institute for Learning, our Further Education Committee surveyed recently qualified teachers, less than a third (29%) of those who had completed a programme felt it had been effective. Relatively few (37%) gained ICT confidence, while nearly half (46%) believed there had been no change or, worse, that the “training” had actually reduced their confidence.

Clearly, there needs to be concerted action to remedy the situation. The extent to which future teachers need to be appropriately skilled – if they are to use technology expertly to enhance learning and teaching – has been well researched and documented of late (DeGennaro, 2010; Futurelab, 2010). We wanted to look deeper and explore the perceptions of recently qualified teachers and trainers in the lifelong learning, adult and community education sectors noting that information and communication technologies (ICT) standards required of qualifying school and University teachers vary considerably.

We are concerned that the National Occupational Standards for the Life Long Learning Sector includes only the briefest of references to exploiting technology in learning and teaching (LLUK, 2011). We wanted to know, therefore, whether respondents felt their teacher education programme equipped them with the skills and knowledge to use ICT appropriately in a range of learning, teaching and training contexts.

The majority of 235 respondents in our survey had completed an in-service programme (84%) at a range of providers including the employing colleges (68%) and a few universities. In addition to the concerns expressed around issues of confidence and effectiveness, 100 respondents (42%) claimed their tutors rarely or never modelled using ICT in learning and teaching. Around two thirds (66%) said they received little or no formal training in ICT and 60% said levels of support were poor (60%). Many learnt more from peer interactions (83%) than from the programme team.

The teachers we questioned had very clear ideas of the support and training they needed and, we would argue, their demands should help shape future in-service provision. They called for, “much more emphasis on ICT through expert teaching,” and observed that, “…too much prior knowledge was assumed,” and that, “our tutors, although very good in their subject specialism, were not really IT orientated.” It was suggested that ICT be used, “for interactive presentation/delivery of lessons,” and that there should be, “better use of and modelling of IT and its implementation.”

ALT proposes that teacher educators incorporate regular and effective modelling of technology enhanced learning and provide quality training and support in the use of ICT in learning and teaching that leads to evidential and assessed activities if future teachers are to be suitably equipped for the 21st Century.

These issues will be developed further during the ALT conference in Leeds – Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate between 6 and 8 September, for which ALT is providing an assisted places scheme for FE Colleges and Learning and Skills Sector providers in England.

Seb Schmoller is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), an independent membership charity whose mission is to ensure that use of learning technology is effective and efficient, informed by research and practice, and grounded in an understanding of the underlying technologies and their capabilities, and the situations into which they are placed. Malcolm Ryan, who led the above enquiry, is HE representative on the ALT Further Education Committee, and Head of TaLENT (Teaching and Learning Enhancement Team) in the School of Education at the University of Greenwich 


DeGennaro, D. (2010) Grounded in Theory: Immersing Pre-service Teachers in Technology-Mediated Learning
Futurelab (2010) Education futures, teachers and technology
LLUK (2011) National Occupational Standards for Learning Delivery

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