Centro de Profesores de Aracena. Huelva.

How ICT could help teachers?
© Dr. Pere Marquès Graells, 2004 (última revisión: 21/10/04 )

Departamento de Pedagogía Aplicada, Facultad de Educación, UAB


1.- ICT and Education.

1.1.- ICT and cyberspace.

Now, we are in the Information Society, also called the Knowledge Society for its increasing importance in all human activities as a forth production factor <http://peremarques.net/si.htm>

In this society, characterized by very quick scientific advances and a strong trend to economic and cultural globalization, ICT <http://peremarques.net/tic.htm> are widely used in all human activities.. and all people need new competencies in the use of ICT <http://peremarques.net/competen.htm>

The most powerful and revolutionary ICT is the Internet, that has opened the door to a new age, the Internet Age. The Internet offers us a third world where we can do almost everything that we can do in the real physical world, and it allows us to develop new activities: e-mail and chat with people of all over the world, immediately search for information, teleworking, teletraining, teleshopping... Now people have three worlds where to spend their time: the physical world, the world of imagination and the cyberspace when there are not distances <http://peremarques.net/nuevaera.htm>

1.2.- ICT impact in Education

The impact of globalization and ICT in the society is inducing a deep revolution in all social fields. In education we remark <http://peremarques.net/impacto.htm>:

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2.- Teachers competencies in ICT <http://peremarques.net/docentes.htm>

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3.- The new ICT bases of educational centers: infrastructures that they need

3.1.- The digital whiteboard into the classroom: the didactic innovation for ALL teachers.

The digital whiteboard provide teachers and students an easy and always ready system to visualize and discuss together all information that can allow Internet, TV, or other digital resource: multimedia documents, videos, paper documents (that they can capture with a web cam)... The teachers don't need an large formation in ICT <http://peremarques.net/pizarra.htm>

3.2.- IT classrooms: a good tool for digital literacy and to individualize work.

In the IT classrooms (that sometimes have also a digital whiteboard) teachers and students can develop this activities:

- The digital literacy of the students. This task is developed by teachers that have specific formation in ICT.
- Professional practices. This task is developed by specialized teachers in some Vocational Training Courses.
- Didactic activities related to the curriculum, to facilitate the teaching and learning processes. Nevertheless, a lot of teachers neither have the ICT competencies required to manage a IT classroom, nor know good didactic practices for using ICT. In consequence, they are often stressed and the learning results are not good.
- Individual and collective tasks that teachers propose to the students or that they develop out of their own initiative.

3.3.- Multi-purpose classrooms with computers and Internet access: the ideal environment for autonomous students .

The multi-purpose classrooms have some group work tables with computers, and frequently has a teacher or instructor that helps students if necessary. The new curricula, with less memorization and more practical practices, and the growing importance of ICT tools as a learning tools, require ICT working environments for the students at the school.

The multi-purpose classrooms open to the students after class hours allow students that do not have a computer at home to access a computer to do their homework.

3.4.- A personal computer in the classroom.

In the last years, some schools have put in their classrooms one computer for every two students. These computers are integrated in the desks and the teacher can control when they switch on and off. So the students can only work with de computer when the teacher allows them to do so.

Another system to make easier for the students the use of computers in the classroom, is to have a laptops in a mobile cupboard ((where the batteries can be charged). When necessary, the laptops are distributed to the students. A wireless network will allow their Internet connection.

3.5.- The intranet and the web site of the center: overall communication in the center educational community.

The intranet (LAN) of the center<http://peremarques.net/intranets.htm> allow use e-center platforms that, together with a web environment, make easy the information process (about the center and its activities), communication (interpersonal, group), management (personal, group management, academic, institutional, tutorial) and teaching/learning processes (presencial and on-line) of educational centers.<http://peremarques.net/plataformacentro.htm>

The webs of the center are frequently the friendly interface of the intranet and the e-center platforms.Their aim is to facilitate the communication amongst the center members, to improve management and teaching/learning processes, to publish of its activities and to create a better relationship with the environment.<http://peremarques.net/webcentro.htm>; <http://peremarques.net/webfuent.htm#centros>

3.6.- Computer and Internet at home: an excellent support to the students learning.

Every day is more necessary for teachers and students to have always a computer nearby. At the school and at home. So the school and Society must provide computers with internet access to students that do not have it at home: multi-purpose classrooms in the centers, libraries with computers in the city.... (Nowadays in Spain about 35% of the homes have got computer and access to Internet)

Having a computer at home helps the students doing their homework, completing the school learnings and accessing (when necessary) to virtual tutoring services. It also helps teachers ordering individualized task (using the Internet and other digital resources) according the individual needs of the students.

Internet access must be a right for all citizens. The immense possibilities of cyberspace must be open to everybody.

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4.- Support resources for education

Having digital whiteboard or/and a personal computer for each two pupils in the classroom makes easier the integration of all this resources in the curriculum.

4.0- Conventional didactic materials: books, games, vídeos....

4.1.- "Non-formal education" supporting materials.

The "informal education" provided by our social relationships, TV, press, ICT and Internet... is more and more important for the people. Young people know more and more things (not necessary the curricular topics) and they learn more outside the school.

Schools now must make use of these mass media and ICT contributions and integrate them in the teaching and learning processes.<http://peremarques.net/eparalel.htm>

4.2.- The resources of school social environment

The school must promote work together with the families, associations, companies and cultural agents of your social environment (educative society). Nowadays, with Internet access everywhere and digital whiteboards in the classrooms it will be easier.

4.3.- The contributions of cyberspace

The information and communication services that cyberspace provides, offer a lot of new educative possibilities <http://peremarques.net/buenidea.htm>

In addition to all the didactic resources that the cyberspace stores, there are a lot of web sites on Internet that can be of educative interest (see for instance: <http://peremarques.net/wteprima.htm> where a lot of this resources are sorted on subjects and educative levels)

To protect children of inadequate contents, it's convenient to have "content filters".

On the other hand, the communicative channels of Internet help developing activities like the following ones:

- Virtual tutoring. Although that a good presential tutoring always will be better than a good virtual tutoring one (direct personal communication always will be better than a virtual contact), virtual tutoring will be specially useful when a student cannot go to school (in case of illness, travel...), when a student has a doubt that prevents him from getting on in his study or work...

... However, the conditions for allowing students to use online tutoring must be well determined, otherwise the teacher could have an important increase of work that, at the present time, would not be considered part of his working hours.

- Forums. The creation of virtual forums about topics related to the subjects, specially if they are a preparatory activity for presential debates, is another activity of high pedagogical interest, which is simple to organize if all the students have electronic mail. In this activity, the participants (who can be students of remote schools) are constructing a new shared knowledge by means of opinion exchange, argumentation and debate.

- Video conferences. Even a simple videoconference opens wide new educative possibilities. With a video conference one can:

- Contact with other other centers, where the students can explain what they are doing or about their country (perhaps with diverse languages: English, Spanish, French…)
- Organize presentations of subject contents, synthesis amongst the local students and those others centers. Thus the students after having prepared very well their presentation (with multimedia supports) can expose it to their classmates and those of the remote class. At the end there can be questions.
- Have a videoconferencing with some relevant person of our society, , who will be able to present questions to the students and to whom the students can later ask some questions.

- Collaborative activities online and virtual educative communities. Internet provides shared spaces that allow communication and information exchange, making it easy to develop collaborative learning activities amongs geographically separated students They before they will have to establish the aims and the operation rules, determining criteria to generate alternatives, to argue, to evaluate solutions, to make decisions (not necessarily by consensus, but respecting the minority opinions), etc.

The services of Internet also facilitate the virtual learning communities, formed by groups of people with similar interests, that communicate through Internet and share information (people contribute with some information and also expect to receive some). Its characteristics are the following:

- There is a common objective related to the adquisition of new knowledge and abilities.
- The members of the community have a sense of belonging to a group and all of them are involved in the construction of new learnings and new knowledge.
- The community members have diverse profiles and can make diverse contributions.
- There is a “place” of encounter (physical and/or virtual)
- There are channels to share knowledge, facilitating interactions amongst their members that strengthen the individual learning processes.
- There is a leadership and a conduct code

The keys to success are: confidence and opening (feeling of freedom), relevance, participation, respect… The weak points are: its limit is the combined knowledge of its members, wrong knowledge can be generated when members have too much autonomy…

4.4.- Didactic multimedia interactive resources

The didactic multimedia resources are software (in CD support and on-line) designed to make easier specifics learnings<http://peremarques.net/tipolog1.htm> :

4.5.- Other software for general use.

They is a lot of software that can help teachers and students to carry out certain tasks:

4.6.- The "Web Quest" (guided searches)

The "Web Quest" are learning activities that focus on research. In this activities the students (generally a group) make a series of guided tasks that demand analysis, evaluation, organization, synthesis, argumentation… by means of looking up suggested information sources (most of them web pages). The final result is a “product” that is presented to the classroom.

Generally the students are organized in groups; each one has a roll in the activity, that will be carried out in several phases. The design of a Web Quest has the following sections:

- Title and introduction. Summary of the activity. Presentation of the situation or scenario, it must be attractive for students, who sometimes will play a role (detective, journalist…)

- Activity. Description of the educative goals and task to carry out (that can be related to a certain subject or can be interdisciplinary). Some activities will be only for the students who play certain roles. The activities can be centered on solving a problem, elaborating a synthesis, answering certain questions… In any case, they must include the phases to follow.

- Resources. Listing of materials that will be used: web pages, forums and other books and documents easily accessibles to students.

- Process. Description of the process to follow to carry out the tasks, indicating all the necessary steps. These aids (cognitive scaffolds) will make easier for the students collecting relevant information, transforming it (analysis, understanding, valuation, integration…) and elaborating the final product (synthesis…).

- Evaluation. The evaluation guidelines will indicate the criteria to assess the work ( the final product as well as the developed process). The final product obtained by the students will be presented and discuss in class.

- Advice and suggestions about structuring of the information (cognitive schemes, maps…), aspect to analyze, assessment criteria …

Amongst the pedagogical contributions of the WQ we emphasize the following:

- It's an activity that motivates students
- It empowers the development of high cognitive functions, stimulating the construction of new knowledge.
- It supposes a collaborative learning.

Also based on the guided use of the Internet resources we find good resources in the following activities::

- the “treasure hunt", activities where students receive a list of questions and another list of Internet addresses in which they can find the answers.

- and the “plan lessons”, learning activities, that sometimes constitute complete didactic units, practical , specific and of short duration. In general they refer to Internet resources that the students have to consult to make the activity.

4.7.- The teacher's web site

The "teacher's web site" are web pages built by teachers to make easier the learning and teaching processes and to share their experience with other teachers. Their usual contents are: the teacher's presentation (curriculum vitae, e-mail, web of center or institution where he works, professional activity...),and web sites for his different subjetcs. The subject web site often include:

- Subject presentation :the subject in the course context, educative goals, previous knowledges that the students needs…

- List of contents and learning activities. A THEMATIC WEB can be elaborated for each theme. This web will be a center of resources about this theme. It will include:

- The main sections of each theme.
- Documents: notes and schemes
- Didactic materials
- Games
- Exercises and learning activities that the student can do.
- Specific bibliography
- Links to other web pages documents, Web Quest, simulators, autocorrective exercises…
- Also they can include links to web pages that show activities of learning made by the students of previous courses

- Methodology and evaluation system

- Interpersonal communication channels, that can include: guides for presential and on-line tutorials, links to general forums of students and teachers where to discuss concrete subjects, listing of students with its email and its personal Web….

- Board of teacher's announcements, where the teacher informs his students about questions of interest related to the subject (examinations, visits, timing to make and to deliver works…).

The "teacher's web" can give support to the continuous formation of the teachers, to the development of their educational tasks and to the learning activities of the students:. We emphasize the following advantages:

- They are a data base of the educative resources of the teacher.

- They help and improve the learning processes. The students can organize their study in a more independent way, they can consult the educational plan anywhere and anyhow, didactic guides, learning activities to do, basic information of the subject, forums and where they can participate, etc. In addition, when students go to class, they can have a printed version the page of the contents of the day and the slides that the teacher will use.

- They help and improve the teaching processes. When teacher has all these resources properly structured in this web, it is easier to prepare the classes and to use the didactic materials in the right moment, specially if there is a digital whiteboard in classroom.

- They help the teacher reflect on his practice. The progressive elaboration of the "teacher's web" demands looking for and selecting educative resources, thinking about how they can be used...

- Transparency. The "teacher's web" on the net allows teachers of other centers knowing what their colleagues do and and allows all students consulting complementary sources of information

- Collaboration and continuous formation for teachers. Knowing what other teachers do and the resources they use, can promote email contact amongst teavhers to interchange experiences and educational resources. And is a powerful channel of continuous formation for teachers

- It allow publishing the personal creations of the teacher amongst the educative community: notes, multimedia materials, learning activities, reflections…

4.8.- ICT as cognitive tools.

ICT can be used as a cognitive tool that can give support and expand the cognitive capacity of the students, for instance when the students make a conceptual map or built some simulation to visualize and experiment some physic phenomenon.

4.9.- The student's web and / or the portfolio

When students make their web page, they learn how to use computer programs better to express themselves, using both the verbal and the audio-visual language. In addition, they also practice structuring hypertextual information. The basic contents that the students can include in their web page are:

- Personal presentation.

- Curriculum vitae

- Hobbies: collecting, videogames, painting, jokes… … It can also include links to his favorites web pages, newspapers, magazines and programs of TV, etc…

- Porfolio, where the students can put the works that they have done for some subjects. .The teacher is then able to review and verify the tasks made by the students The virtual students portfolio also can be stored on an "ad hoc" virtual disk in the server of the center intranet.

- Detailed course curriculum: where the student can mark the contents that he has already assimilated. The teacher can consult it periodically to verify the student learning progres...

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5.- ICT and teaching / learning processes.

The methodological changes that allow the universal access to information and communication through the Internet and the innovative use of all ICT <http://peremarques.net/tic.htm> make it possible to draw a new teaching paradigm based on socio-constructivist approaches that could promote learning through search, experimentation, interaction (with resources and people), assimilation and application of knowledges (not only its memorization).

That means changing from a one-subject and "teacher-centered" teaching ("teaching by telling") to a more interdisciplinary and student-centered teaching (“learning by doing”). Here the most important is the students learning (what they find out, what they think, what they say, what they do and organize ...) with the help, guidance and mediation of the teacher, who will organize the learning activities according to the students cognitive style and other personal circumstances.

5.1.- The new teacher role: the "mediator" teacher.

The mainly aim of the educational activity is the personal development of the students and the achievement of the learnings foreseen in the curriculum, but now the teacher isn't the main depository of the relevant knowledges of the subject.

In consequence, the teacher stops being the principal transmitter of information to the pupils and turns into intermediary mediator between the culture and the students, an agent of knowledges who orientates the learnings (at general level of the group class and at individual level). From the prescription (and sometimes also the creation) of educational resources and activities of learning (in presential and virtual way), the teacher orientates the access of the students to the informative and communicative channels of the cyberspace and the overall environment, guide them in the selection and assimilation of the available information, does a formative evaluation, advises, manages dynamics of groups, motivates...

5.2.- Individualization: make attention to diversity to facilitate significant learnings.

Now the the tendency is a greater individualization of the education to give response to the increasing heterogeneity of the students who are coming to the centers. Lucky the great variety of resources that teachers and students can use facilitates that the teachers could give a response more personalized to the diversity, attending the styles of learning of the students, his previous knowledges, rate of work, individual interests, personal needs. Besides the didactic materials, it is necessary to diversify also:

- the spaces, to offer all students good environments for the study
- the time, in function of the type of work and the rates of learning
- the educational objectives, taking care of the capacities and the learnings observed in the students
- the activities, adapting them to the initial characteristics and the progress of the students

5.3.- Continuous evaluation.

In addition to the initial evaluation of the students that allows teachers to consider if it's necessary to modify the initial curriculum, along of the course the students have a continuous evaluation (self evaluation and teacher evaluation), that allows the teaching to know its progresses (theoretical knowledges, application of the procedures, attitudes) and to regulate its learnings attending the diversity.

5.4.- Constructivist learning: creative-critical applicative approach to built knowledge.

In agreement with the approaches of CAIT methodology (constructivist, active - self regulated, interactive and technological) from the "Foro Pedagógico de Internet" <http://www.fund-encuentro.org/foro/foro.htm> that looks for to apply the developments of psicopedagogy and the instruments TIC to give suitable answer to the necessities of the today students, we understand the learning as a personal and frequently shared construction of meanings (the knowledge only exists in the head of whom constructs it) where the students learn not only to acquire data but to develop abilities that allow them to select it, to organize it and to interpret it establishing significant connections with previous knowledge with the purpose to make new knowledge that allow them to know and to transform the reality.

The learnings are the result of individual cognitive processes by means of which information are assimilated (events, concepts, procedures, values) and soon can be applied in different contexts; new significant and functional mental representations are constructed (knowledges). The learning frequently starts with the access to certain information, an interpersonal communication (with the parents, teaching staff, companions…) and making certain cognitive operations.



(cognitive operations)

(learning approaches)
(cognitive operations)

- physical environment, another people
- didactic materials: conventional, AV, ICT
- mass media
- the Internet (cyberspace)

- to capture, to analyze
- to interact, to experiment
- to communicate with others, to negotiate meanings
- to make, to reconstruct, to synthesize

- to memorize (*concepts, events, procedures, rules)
- ability
- comprehension (id.*)
- knowledge
+ cognitive strategies

- in familiar context (repetition)
- in new contexts (transfer processes)
Factors that make possible the learning: to can learning (capacity, experience), to want learning (to have motive, reasons)

In addition of “to know something more”, they suppose a change of the potential conduct. To learn not only consists of acquiring new knowledge, also can consist of to consolidate, to reconstruct to eliminate… knowledge that already we have. In any case, learning always entail changes in the physical structure of the brain and a modification of the schemes of knowledge and/or the cognitive structures of the apprentices.

From this perspective socio-contructivist, the tendency is to to create students centered environments with ICT support that reinforce the reflective and experiential processes. The aim is to focus the formative activity in the analysis of the reality and in the personal construction of knowledge more that in the transmission and memorization of the information. Without eliminate previous teacher expositions , the activities will be present in a context, situated

5.5.- Activity and autonomy of the students.

The matter there isn't to take notes and to memorize. Now to learn is more centered in cognitive skills of high range: the personal search of meaning, the resolution of problems, the analysis and the critical evaluation, the creativity…

The role of the student is then active, and progressively more independent in the organization of his learning activities. This activities frequently will be the development of projects (where they must to observe, to manipulate, to investigate), case studies, resolution of real problems…And in this context the students must make: 

- To plan the task
- To select and to organize information of critical and creative way
- To elaborate it and to integrate it significantly in its previous knowledge, taking care of multicultural visions
- To transfer and to apply knowledge to the real life… more than to reproduce them mechanically (in the exams).
- To evaluate, to compare the established objectives and the obtained results.

Thus the students in addition to the specific learnings they get, learn to learn with autonomy and will develop metacognitive abilities. This self regulated learning can be facilitate if the students have computers and access to Internet in their home, and specially if the professor has a “teacher web page” with the program of the course, didactic and informative materials, didactic activities, the evaluation system, etc.) <http://peremarques.net/estudian.htmp>.

5.6.- Maximum interaction: collaborative learning (presential and on-line). 

The learnings are made from the interactions between the apprentice and the learning activities, that is convenient they offer feed-back to students about his performances. These activities often will demand the interaction of the students with some materials, other times these interactions will be with people. Now the cyberspace increases the opportunities of interaction, as much with materials (Internet is an enormous source of intelligence) like with people (independently of its geographic situation).

To learn is an individual activity, but also it is a social activity. When the activities are made “cooperatively”, the intelligence and the capacities that are applied are distributed between all, the students learn each from others, they look for the improvement of all of them, negotiating the meaning when constructing his own knowledge attending the other diverse points of view (social construction of the knowledge). In this context, the learning comes determined by the knowledge that each student has, the social environment and the problem that must be solved.

5.7.- Multivariate of resources for the learning and intensive use of ICT

Now the tendency is to the use all type of educative resources, conventional and as much audio-visual (books, videos…) like based on the new technologies (educational software, digital documents, pages web from Internet…). The use of good multimedia materials facilitates the learnings because the students learn better in faster way with the aid of the images, the animations, the interactive didactic activities and the possibility of to follow diverse itineraries.

In addition to the advantages of the didactic materials multimedia (that tutorize the learning processes in a individualized way), teachers and students use the ICT like information source, like tool to process data (to write, to draw, to classify data, to develop complex calculations…), like communication channel and specially like cognitive instrument (“mindtool”, according to terminology of David Johassen) that assumes aspects of certain tasks of students and releases some cognitive space that the student can use in thoughts of superior level (analytical, critical, creative, resolution of problems…).

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7. - The exit keys for the ICT integration in the educative centers.

- Suitable and sufficient infrastructures

- Formation of the teachers in digital didactics

- Support of the directive equipment

- A good coordination ICT: technical-pedagogic coordination and maintenance of the TIC

- Favorable attitude of the teaching staff: FISH, personal implication

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