Stand and Deliver : Technology and Teacher Education in Remote Communities

Year: 1991

Author: Sachs, Judyth, Logan, Lloyd

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There has been a proliferation in the use of technology in people's lives, both for professional and leisure purposes. However, educational institutions have made limited use of technology for delivering courses. The use of print material and face-to-face modes remain predominant. Where technology is used it is mainly in non-interactive forms such as in the use of overhead projections, audio and video tapes and computer projections. As Sachs, Smith and Chant (1990, p.6) argue information in the form of a productive resource is as yet rarely exploited in mainstream tertiary education. In most cases video disc, texts on diskettes, authoring languages and interactive computer based programs remain things of life beyond the schools and higher education institutions. Teacher education programs in particular have been slow to take up the possibilities for alternative modes of program delivery that Information Technology (IT) now provides. Policy makers and administrators have failed to recognise schools and universities as workplaces that are in need of modernisation and re-equipping with the new learning technologies (backed up with necessary levels of training), if they are to provide the higher standards of learning and of pupil and teacher commitment to learning that are now expected (POST, 1991). In this paper we present information about the use of IT in tertiary education derived from a study of the first phase of the Remote Teacher Education Program (RATEP) project. The program was implemented in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities on Cape York Peninsular and Torres Strait during 1990 and 1991. We argue that in this project the potential for IT to be used as an instrument for teaching and learning was demonstrated. In its early stages the success of IT surpassed the expectations of most of those involved in the project for the delivery of course materials in what can only be described as very remote and difficult conditions with inexperienced tertiary students. In developing our argument we will focus on three issues as they emerged during the first year of the project: conceptualisation and design of technology based courses, interactive learning systems, pedagogy and the features of IT and RATEP pedagogy. However, before developing these issues we contextualise the study within teacher education and then briefly describe the aims and program characteristics of RATEP.