UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers
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The United Nations, through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the UNESCO Education for All (EFA), World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) and Literacy Decade initiatives, has set a high priority on the improvement of education world-wide.
The G8 Heads of State concur and acknowledge the role that information and communication technology (ICT) can play in supporting educational improvement. The UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers project is developed in support of these priorities.
The goal of the “ICT Competency Framework for Teachers” (ICT-CFT) project is to improve teachers’ practice. However, the Framework do not merely focus on ICT skills. By combining ICT skills with emergent views in pedagogy, curriculum, and school organization, the framework is designed for the professional development of teachers who want to use ICT skills and resources to improve their teaching, collaborate with colleagues, and perhaps ultimately become innovation leaders in their institutions. The overall objective of the project is to improve teacher practice in a way that contributes to a higher quality education system that can, in turn, produce a better informed citizenry and higher quality workforce that can, as a result, advance a country’s economic and social development.
More specifically, the objectives of the ICT-CFT project are:
- to constitute a common core syllabus (defining various ICT competency skills for teachers) that professional development providers can use to develop learning materials sharable at a global level;
- to provide a basic set of qualifications that allows teachers to integrate ICT into their teaching;
- to extend teachers’ professional development so as to advance their skills in pedagogy, collaboration, and school innovation using ICTs;
- to harmonize different views and vocabulary regarding the uses of ICTs in teacher education.
While the UNESCO ICT-CFT project specifies the competencies needed to implement these changes, it will be up to approved governmental, non-governmental, and private providers to deliver the training for these competencies. The project also includes a mechanism for reviewing and approving the curricula and course offerings of these providers.
Economists identify three factors that lead to growth based on increased productivity: capital deepening (the use of equipment that is more productive than earlier versions), higher quality labor (a more knowledgeable workforce that is more productive), and technological innovation—the creation, distribution, and use of new knowledge. These three productivity factors serve as the basis for three complementary, somewhat overlapping approaches that connect education policy with economic development:
- increase the technological uptake of the workforce by incorporating technology skills in the curriculum — or the technology literacy approach;
- increase the ability of the workforce to use knowledge to add value to economic output by applying it to solve complex, real-world problems — or the knowledge deepening approach.
- increase the ability of the workforce to innovate and produce new knowledge and of citizens to benefit from this new knowledge — or the knowledge creation approach.
These three approaches correspond to alternative policy goals and visions for the future and together they provide a developmental trajectory by which education reform supports increasingly sophisticated ways of developing a country’s economy and society: from technology uptake, to a high performance workforce, to a knowledge economy and information society. Moving across the approaches, a country’s students and ultimately its workforce and citizenry acquire increasingly sophisticated skills needed to support economic growth and an improved standard of living.
The UNESCO ICT-CFT project encompasses all three of these approaches to educational change, so as to address different policy goals and visions. But each approach has different implications for education reform and improvement. Each has different implications for components of the education system: pedagogy, teacher practice and professional development, curriculum and assessment, and school organization and administration. And ICT plays a different role in each of these approaches.
Teacher professional development has been shown to be a particularly important component of educational improvement but only if professional development is focused on specific changes in teacher classroom behaviors and particularly if it is aligned with other changes in the educational system. The UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers play out the implications that each of the three education improvement approaches have for changes in each of the components of the educational system: Policy, curriculum and assessment, pedagogy, the use of technology, school organization and administration, and teacher professional development.