The role of ICT in primary and secondary education has become more important over the last years. Still, in many schools, and for many subjects, teachers wouldn’t consider teaching without their text- and workbooks. ICT is often an additional part of the complete set of learning materials; teachers can either choose to use it, or not.
What comes after the ‘books behind glass’?
The possibilities for complete digital learning packages are increasing however. Publishers offer tablets to schools with learning programs. School have professional networks in place to facilitate all students. Also, digital learning packages seem to be growing in functionality. Some of the digital learning materials are seen as ‘books behind glass’, but publishers find new ways of integrating their content with powerful digital learning environments that offer teachers and learners a lot of tools to shape learning.
Furthermore, the number of possibilities to enhance teaching and learning is growing:
- Feedback can be provided automatically and immediate and rich feedback is seen as an important factor for improving learning results.
- Adaptive learning programs offer students personal routes through curricula, so that they can work in their own pace and at their own level.
- Learning analytics can be used to keep track so that teachers keep an overview as more students work on their own level
Flexibility through curriculum tools
Flexibility in learning becomes more important and ICT can offer teachers and students powerful tools to design, plan and evaluate learning trajectories and activities related to curriculum goals. Flexibility also means more complexity for both teachers and students. This complexity reflects the complexity of learning that can be very different from student to student. A more teacher centered model might be easier to manage, but inherently doesn’t respond to students’ individual learning needs and their characteristics.
The digital learning environment should provide a set of curriculum tools. Learning materials and activities should be related to curriculum goals (sometimes in simple, but also in very complex structures), in order to give teachers new possibilities to design learning based on their students’ needs.
New roles for educational publishers?
Educational publishers need to redefine their supply of learning materials if they do want to facilitate this kind of teaching and learning. It doesn’t mean that learning trajectories shouldn’t be developed anymore; on the contrary. Whereas publishers design their materials based on the average students – sometimes with some options for differentiation- the number of learning routes should be elaborated. Based on a core curriculum and on an additional set of goals, teachers should facilitate flexible learning for their students. ICT could do this adaptively for a part of the curriculum. In both schools and adult training it remains important that teachers keep an important role in the learning design for their students.