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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Teachers outside digital divide

Dear Readers,

Despite France being one of the leading suppliers of information technology and communications equipment it is still firmly low-tech when it comes to its use in schools.

A report to education minister Luc Chatel has shown that while France is eighth in Europe for hi-tech supplies it is third bottom of the class – or 24th – for actually using the same equipment in the classroom. Only 66 per cent of teachers here could say in the survey that they had used a computer in class compared to 96 per cent of teachers in the UK and 90 per cent in Denmark. The survey also found the average school computer was seven years old.

Mr Chatel is not impressed. He said during a debate on the state of technology in schools that “the future of school will not be written on a blackboard”. He was revealing a €60 million investment over three years in training teachers in modern hi-tech methods and said: “The lack of proper training of teachers in digital technologies is the single major obstacle to its use in the classroom”. With many pupils being used to having digital technology at their fingertips it is seen as absurd that the education system has fallen so far behind everyday life.

Educationists say technology in the classroom helps boost student motivation and allows teachers to make rapid changes to teaching materials to respond to pupils’ needs and abilities. It also allows for greater communication between teachers, pupils and parents. However, some teachers claim never to have used computers or digital whiteboards in class, with 53 per cent of them believing installing computers wastes class time; 35 per cent fear they will disrupt classes, and 32 per cent doubting their effectiveness as teaching aids. Some practical concerns were also put forward with 32 per Luc Chatelcent saying they did not have computer resources and 20 per cent saying they had never had training to use the new technology. Schools also highlighted the problem of maintaining the equipment with teachers often being left with the job of fixing or finding workarounds to IT problems; and then having to prepare alternate lesson plans in case of IT failure.

Mr Chatel has set five main objectives: ease the access to digital resources by setting up a central database; putting in place better training of teachers, create widespread access to digital resources and work areas, rebuild links with local communities and teach pupils in the use of digital technology and communication.

Article from The Connexion (www.connexionfrance.com)

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