There have been commendable initiatives where IB teachers have been integrating technologies into IB programmes (IBPYP, IBMYP, IBDP and IBCP) as new technologies have emerged. However, up to this point there has been no formal IB document that addresses considerations for IB schools, administrators, technology specialist and educators. A new pre-publication document, The role of technology in the IB programmes, has now been made available on the Online Curriculum Center.
It is not a prescriptive document, but intended to support policy making, strategic thinking and development and curriculum design and essentially how technologies are used in IB classrooms.
The Guide looks at the question of ‘What is technology literacy?’ It highlights that technology literacy is possible regardless of the resources that teachers and students may have available and goes beyond learning the mechanics of using particular tools (i.e. specific software, hardware or services). The Guide points out one of the most important skills to develop: ability to adapt to new technologies. This has significant implications for the way we integrate technologies in teaching and learning and also for the approaches to professional development.
A more controversial topic is addressed in the Guide that needs to be discussed in the school environment. To what extent should a school limit the access to technologies that are common place in student’s daily life? In some cases, technological limitations (i.e. preventing students from viewing YouTube videos due to limited bandwidth in the school) and in other instances a viewpoint (i.e. students should not be able to access Facebook in school).
Technology literacy involves the appropriate choice and implementation of tools to achieve a particular learning task. Because of the access to online services we now have new technologies that can support multilingualism, multiculturalism and international-mindedness.
Too often schools and educators only consider the technologies that the school can provide. In other cases, schools attempt to provide all of the technologies that students require. Both are rather limiting. Many of our students are actually carrying on them a very powerful range of technologies including cell phones with cameras and video capabilities and even smart phones with access to online services. Schools need review how these tools that students have immediately available can be used in the classroom.
Most important of all is what professional development will be made available to teachers so that:
- they have an understanding of how technologies can be integrated in their subject,
- how to manage the use of technologies so that the tasks lead to the intended results and
- to embrace new technologies as they emerge.