Sweden’s future teachers IT-illiterate

Sweden's up and coming generation of teachers are struggling when it comes to IT. Apparently, only one in ten trainee teachers thinks they have good enough skills to use in the classroom, a study by the Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen) involving 5,300 teacher-trainees has revealed.

“It’s about time the government showed that teacher training needs to keep up with the times,” declared the foundation.

The Knowledge Foundation has, in recent years, studied how the government’s efforts to reform education have filtered out to the community.

Over 5,300 students and 733 lecturers involved in training teacher-candidates were interviewed about their use of, and attitude towards, IT both in their studies and its use in the classroom. Rather worryingly in an age of broadband, iPods, p2p networks and blogging, the lack of practical knowledge about the use of IT as a pedagogical tool is significant amongst students and lecturers alike.

The study claimed only one in ten teacher-trainees is satisfied with the training they’ve received regarding the use of IT in the classroom.

“Our findings are quite striking,” admitted Christina Ehneström, head of the ‘IT in schools and education’ project. “Considerable initiatives are now required to ensure that both lecturers and teacher-trainees become adept with using IT.”

Students and lecturers use word-processing software, e-mail and look for information on the Net; however, very few are capable of making a web-page.

What’s more, they receive little training in how IT could be best used in the classroom. When it comes to their own studies, teacher-trainees have little experience of IT in the classroom . Moreover, 50% of those lecturers responsible for training Sweden’s future teachers rarely or never use IT in their own classes.

In spite of such luddite tendencies, both teachers and students alike are eager to keep up with the click-generation. Over 60% believe they will have a need for IT skills in their future teaching career.

“In spite of the lack of IT skills it’s good to hear that trainee teachers and their tutors have a positive attitude towards IT,” said Christina Ehneström. “The Knowledge Foundation is planning to begin a forward thinking project alongside teacher-trainers in 2005.”

Ehneström also invited the government and other interested parties to join them in exploring ways in which teaching can benefit from the use and application of IT.

Sources: Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, The Knowledge Foundation, ST Press, Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm City