Ileana Farré is a professor at a Teacher Training Institute (Instituto Superior de Formación Docente 803) in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, Argentina. I have asked her to provide a personal view of the use of learning technologies in teacher education in Argentina. She would like to emphasise that these are opinions based on her personal experience and aren’t necessarily representative of all the ISFDs.
Generally, there are no institutional plans or strategies for the use of learning technologies within most ISFDs. Thus it is usually left to individual professors to decide whether or not and how to use learning technologies in their teaching. Thus there are three basic contexts for the use of learning technologies in Argentinian Teacher Training Institutes.
There is no use of learning technologies in some institutes.
Digital tools to supplement regular instruction
In this case, instructors use an institutional learning platform (learning management system ie. Moodle) and other institutional communication tools for the transmission of information and hierarchical communication between: administration and teachers; between teachers, and between teachers and students. In a few cases discussion forums are in use. The most widely used tools are e-mail, pdfs, videos and PowerPoint presentations. In general, these tools reinforce the central role of the instructor.
Instruction designed to exploit the features of learning technologies
The student teachers usually react enthusiastically to the use of learning technologies when they are used to achieve clear educational goals, and when their use is backed up with theoretical analysis and practice that emphasises the pedagogical role of learning technologies in improving educational quality.
When this happens, the teaching method becomes hybrid in organizationally unanticipated ways from an institutional perspective. At times it has been possible to allow greater flexibility for classroom time, recognizing that virtual work is an effective use of study time by both teachers and students.
There remain difficulties with technology infrastructure in Argentina that limit online connectivity. This is a challenge that the government is addressing through the program Argentina Conectada.
As a professor of education within a teaching college, I believe that we need more institution-wide strategies that are more than a collection of isolated activities. We need an institutional strategy based an a contextual analysis that considers the role of professors in a teaching college; the means by which information is acquired and validated; and how knowledge is constructed and the role of digital media as a means of improving the learning path of our students.
Some national initiatives
The national Network of Institutes of Teacher Training (RED INFD) is working in this spirit to encourage institutions to make more use of learning technologies in preparing teachers for their careers, by developing a community of practice among “in touch and connected” teachers. This results in activities being implemented from the ground up by the institutions and by the various educational jurisdictions.
Several projects are aimed at enriching subject teaching through the use of information technologies for lifelong learning and personal reflection:
- The program Conectar Igualdad is an initiative seeking to improve and enhance public schools with the objective of reducing digital, educational and social gaps all over the country. (This is supported in part by Canada’s IDRC – International Development Research Centre). As part of a goal to provide universal access to technology, 2,014,492 notebooks have been delivered to teachers and students throughout Argentina.
- Conectar Lab promotes the creative use of technology, the design of interactive games based on the generation of projects focused on collaboration, exploring emerging interactions between people and their environment.
- The Ministry of Education offers a post-graduate course Higher Level Teaching Specialization in Education and ICT that aims to train specialist teachers in the pedagogical use of ICT, promote the production of new knowledge for teaching and learning, and stimulate reflection on practice.
If the teacher training institutions are to respond adequately to these initiatives, there is an emerging need for visible leadership that will build on the synergy of groups of teachers who are motivated by the search for innovative designs. Institutional leaders need to create and support opportunities for instructors and students to learn by sharing experiences across institutions.
From my point of view, as teacher educators and educational administrators, we need to think about how in the current context we can foster the changes that we are hoping for in the educational environment. We need to consider the availability of learning technologies and new ways of interaction as an opportunity that opens classrooms to other approaches (internal and external) that can transform education.
Many thanks to Ileana for this. A version in Spanish is available here.
If anyone else has more information on the use of learning technologies in Argentina, Ileana and I would be pleased to hear from you.