Just published: Jiří Zounek, Klára Šeďová: Teachers and technology – between a traditional and a modern approach (Brno, 2009)

25.2.2010 - ICT v práci učitele (výzkum)

The book is an output of the research project “Information and Communication Technologies in Everyday Work of Teachers” (Czech Science Foundation, Ref. No. 406/06/1022).

Summary: The book deals with the use of information and communication technologies (computers, internet, video and other didactic technology) in the work of teachers at the basic school. It is divided into two main parts. Part One presents a comprehensive introduction into the issues of implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) in education while providing an interpretative framework for Part Two, where results of the author’s own empirical research are presented.

The theoretical part of the book is based on Czech and especially most recent foreign literature in the field. The focus is on delimiting the sphere of interest, defining concepts, and the process of ICT integration both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Another focus of this part of the book is the barriers to the process of ICT implementation in formal education. Educational research in the field is discussed: the author analyzes findings of a broad range of Czech as well as international research undertaken in the recent years. It has, for instance, turned out that ICT need not necessarily imply innovation in the system of formal education, but are often used to support traditional and proven teaching methods. The theoretical part of the book concludes with a chapter on the situation in the Czech Republic, where ICT implementation into the system of education is mapped from the perspective of school policies, the history of integration of ICT in Czech schools is surveyed and key results of educational research and as well as findings of Czech School Inspection reports are analyzed. They seem to suggest, for instance, that the prevailing focus is on technological tools, with the pedagogical issues of ICT implementation lagging behind. Modern technologies have nevertheless found their way into the work of schools and teachers and are gradually being meaningfully integrated into the teaching and learning processes, too.

Part Two is based on a three-year empirical research project undertaken by the author in Czech basic schools. The objective was to understand and describe whether and how information and communication technologies are present in the everyday work of the teacher as a key formal education protagonist. The research drew on qualitative methodology, mainly interviews with teachers and class video-recordings. This methodology, allowing for extremely detailed analysis of the topic, has rarely been used to explore ICT use in the Czech Republic so far. The research emphasized understanding both how teachers perceive and interpret ICT and their use of it on the one hand and the specific forms of ICT use in class on the other. The key results of the research include the finding that the integration of ICT into the work of teachers is not only a matter of methodology, but that ICT have been influencing relations in the school class as well, an aspect hardly ever mentioned in the discourse on education in connection with these issues. As for the methodological use of ICT, the research has contributed new insights, too. Teachers, for instance, often tend to use modern technologies only to motivate students or “fill in gaps” in lessons, diverging thus considerably from the original objective of implementing ICT in teaching – to employ it as a tool for enhancing the efficiency of teaching and learning processes. The widely shared opinion that ICT support teaching innovation has not been confirmed either.

Czech teachers adopt modern technologies even for traditional teaching, many times to good effect. It is evident that the key factors influencing how ICT will be integrated in class are the individual teacher’s personality, their concept of teaching and teaching style.