Teacher education, mobile learning, and the challenges of scale

Power, Tom (2014). Teacher education, mobile learning, and the challenges of scale. In: Teacher Educator Conference 2014 (TEC 14), 21-23 Feb 2014, Hyderabad.


Educational technology programmes have been characterised as having three critical areas of investment: Technology (Infrastructure); Content and Applications (Infostructure) and Teacher Training (developing Infoculture). The limited effect of many such programmes on classroom practices and learning outcomes have been attributed to over-investment on the technological aspects, and limited or absent investment in teacher education (Pimienta 2007). It is now increasingly recognised that ”The quality of education techniques matters more than the ...devices used ...approaches where teachers use technology to actively engage learners, show better outcomes than device-only approaches.” (Raftree 2013, 2). Yet there is only limited evidence or consensus about what forms of teacher education are effective in helping teachers develop such techniques and approaches in their practice (Wilson & Berne 1999, Lawless & Pellegrino 2007). In this context, we address two questions. What is, or should be, the relationship between the introduction of new technologies, and the professional development of teachers, and what are the main areas of challenge, in delivering technology-enhanced programmes of teacher education, at large-to-national scale, in LEDCs? We consider these questions through a case study of English in Action http://www.eiabd.com, a large scale programme of English Language Teacher Education in Bangladesh, which the national government has requested extend its reach to 180 thousand teachers and 17 Million students, in the next three years. We conclude that the main challenges to achieving successful large or national scale mLearning programmes, in international development con- texts, may be simplest in relation to the mobile technology, more complex in relation to materials development, but most challenging, in relation to reforming or refining teacher education systems, such that they effectively deliver the critical success factors for an effective mLearning programme.

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