Earlier in the year, BESA reported that teachers confidence with using ICT had fallen by 10%. Which sounds dramatic, and was described by some writers as ‘alarming’. But is it?
Well, here’s the data for the last 11 years – from research done by the old DfES until 2004, and data from BESA from 2002. The reason the two lines don’t match in the overlap period of 2002-2004 is probably because DfES used to ask head teachers “What proportion of your teacher are confident”, whereas BESA asks individual teachers “Are you confident?”
Although you can use the data to produce a headline like “Teacher ICT confidence down 10 per cent”, it’s unlikely that average teachers confidence with ICT is the same as it was in 1998. After all, in 1998 we weren’t using the Internet in many classrooms, or using any of the fancy multimedia resources that you see in the majority of classrooms today.
I think that what’s happening is that the data is reflecting the journey through the learning curve. We all start any learning journey in the “Unconsciously Incompetent” box – ie we don’t know what we can’t do. And normally progress through to being “Consciously Incompetent” (ie we find out what we cant do), before continuing through to “Consciously Competent” (a feeling of relief from knowing that we can do it!). And, in the perfect world, we end up “Unconsciously Competent” (ie we aren’t even aware that we’re competent at something, like riding a bike").
The journey looks something like this: And I think the reason that we don’t see a continual increase in teachers’ confidence with ICT is two factors:
Which means we’re unlikely to see an increase in Confidence, even though there’s a continual increase in Competence
My view is that that teachers’ ICT competency is going up, even though the research says their confidence with ICT is going down. What I think is happening is that the gap between teachers’ and students’ competency with ICT is growing. Not in the conventional ‘can-you-master-a-complex-spreadsheet’ way, but in a ‘I-use-ICT-to-solve-my-life-goals’ way. The way that you see students tackling new things with technology, even if they’re not sure how.
The chart probably looks like this:
Which means we’ve got a different kind of problem to the headlines from the research. The gap between the way that students and teachers use ICT, and the multiple competencies that are being developed with different kinds of ICT, is leading to a growing gap between the students and teachers, even though teachers are continuing to increase their ICT competency.