The development of teacher ICT competence and confidence in using Web 2.0 tools in a STEM professional development initiative in Trinidad
teacher professional development, ICT competence, ICT confidence, Web 2.0 tools, STEM education, Trinidad, mixed methods
Technology use for transforming the teaching-learning environment has been well researched and forms a critical component in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Schools and teachers therein need to be well positioned to embrace curricula change and employ Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for teaching and learning. However, as in-service teachers may not have been exposed to STEM education in their teacher preparation programmes, continuous professional development (PD) is the avenue through which change can be effected. This paper describes the gains in competence and confidence of teachers in four selected Web 2.0 tools (Skype videoconferencing tool, emails, blogs, and wikis) while participating in a STEM ICT PD initiative. A phased approach to ICT PD was used in which an online phase bridged two face-to-face workshop series. Participants were 86 teachers from 25 purposefully selected early childhood, primary and secondary schools in Trinidad. A mixed methods approach was used to collect data through the Web 2.0 tools, online questionnaires and a paper ICT self-competency checklist. Analyses revealed all teachers achieved gains in competence in using all four Web 2.0 tools, but to different levels. Gains in confidence were evident from teacher self-reports and their posts that explained their stated levels of confidence as none, low or high. Higher levels of competence arose from working in digitallyrich environments at the PD centre rather than in their schools, which were usually less digitally-rich. Support from facilitators also promoted competence and confidence, especially during the face-to-face component of the PD. There are implications for ICT PD that models a phased approach as it relates to improving STEM education and recommendations are made for school leaders to improve the digital environments of their schools.
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