ICT and learning in teacher education : The social construction of pedagogical ICT discourse and design

Abstract: Background In recent decades, system-wide policies and substantial resources have been directed towards enhancing the use of ICT in learning contexts. This development can be observed at international and national levels. However, reports have indicated a ’slow uptake’ of the use of ICT for pedagogical purposes among compulsory schools and teacher education institutions. Although the teacher education at Umeå University follows this pattern, there have been several initiatives in using ICT for learning in the teacher education programmes. The aim of this study is to scrutinise the process in which ICT-supported methods for learning have been introduced, used and disseminated throughout teacher education. Methods Three ICT-supported methods for teaching and learning were chosen for this study: digital individual development planning (IUP), blogs and e-portfolios. To capture teachers’ and students’ experiences of introducing the pedagogical use of ICT, 115 interviews were conducted and four questionnaires were administered over a four-year period (2006-2010). Course documents and observations of blogs and e-portfolios supplied additional data. Hermeneutics was chosen as the methodological approach. Thematic content analysis was carried out in the first three part-studies, and theoretical frameworks suited for the identified themes were chosen for the analyses. Since pedagogical discourses appeared to be important, discourse analysis was used in the fourth part-study. A final meta analysis has been carried out and is presented later in this thesis. Results In Umeå, as in other countries, teacher education has been slow to adopt ICT for learning. Still, the use of ICT for learning has increased over time. ICT-supported methods such as IUP, blogs and e-portfolios have found their way into the context through a recontextualisation process in which ICT discourses and designs are socially constructed. However, the recontextualisation process could merely be found within sub-fields, such as teacher teams and project groups, since in the main-field (i.e. teacher education) traditional ways of teaching and learning have been internalised. These traditions hold symbolic capital, and teachers who have the means to do so will act according to their habitus and defend the traditions. The recontextualisation process will therefore be kept within the sub-fields, and the dissemination will be limited. Furthermore, the sub-fields are rather isolated from one another, and therefore pedagogical ICT discourses and designs are created in varied ways. However, none of them could be regarded as internalised, and the social construction of pedagogical ICT discourse and design has to be considered to be still ‘under construction’.