This correlates with the adaptation and appropriation stages of technology introduction and encompasses a wide range of development opportunities for ICT. This is also the stage when flexibility of access, delivery and content must be considered, since the use of SchoolNet training opportunities for educator development should not be confined to the project schools, but be accessible to all educators through the provincial schools' networks. Educators need to choose a development path that most suits their needs and flexibility of content is important to cater for this. SchoolNet's current project proposals refer to two 2-day courses in educational computing viz.
2 Day Computers in Education Course. (Output: Effective educational application through involvement in virtual learning communities)
2 Day Advanced Computers in Education Course. (Output: Refresher course; Advanced educational application; Information Management)
Two days is not sufficient time to achieve meaningful outcomes in courses of this nature. The two day period can only be seen as preparatory for ongoing interaction between collaborative teams of educators and their mentors / mediators. The area of ICT integration is very broad to define and offers a wide range of development paths to educators. Strictly according to the definition of the 5 stages of technology introduction, the emphasis in this area of development should still be on the mastering of ICT skills. However, in an adaptation of the model to cater for improved Internet access and given didactic skill levels of South African educators, it would be recommended that the following broad areas of educator development be addressed within the context of ICT skills mastery, content mastery and resource creation:
The above topics focus on the strengths of ICT and its ability to provide access to current information and other people's viewpoints and ideas through its information and communications channels. Educators will be assisted simultaneously with content mastery and resources development. Having educators work with ICT in these contexts provides SchoolNet with a real opportunity to influence curriculum reform in the classroom.
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It is recommended that the above topics are modularised (see Appendix C) and that they are offered as mentor-assisted distance education modules to which educators can subscribe according to their needs and perceived shortcomings.
Introductions to these modules (see Appendix B) should include
It should only be necessary for educators to attend one face-to-face course. Thereafter it should be possible for educators to work through this material in collaborative teams, with mentor support, but certain basic outcomes should be met before they are initially registered to an optional module. These would include the outcomes originating from the first introductory course, Introduction to Computers: Supporting Resources.
Such an approach would embrace all the key principles for educator development referred to in the introductory paragraphs to this framework. It is recommended that the educators registered to these training modules form collaborative groups of three or four from the outset and maintain these groupings throughout the duration of the course. This facilitates a network of sharing, support and encouragement in addition to that provided by a mentor. It also places the spirit of collaboration at the forefront of their professional growth.
Educators should have the option of attending a face-to-face course or conducting the training module online. Face-to-face courses should be held onsite at a school if numbers warrant this e.g. more than 8 subscribers and should be followed up with the distance mentorship and reflective practice as educators implement strategies in class. Certification / accreditation should only be possible after participation in this final stage and the achievement of specific competencies.
The two two-day Computers in Education courses should be replaced by one one-day induction course per school. This would allow the project managers to redistribute training budget allocations to the facilitation of a mentorship programme and sponsorship of school telecommunication costs.