Publications

Evaluation of the ECE Information and Communication Technologies Professional Learning Programme

Publication Details

The Early Childhood Education Information and Communication Technology Professional Learning Programme (ECE ICT PLP) is a three year pilot professional development programme established in 2006. The overarching goal of the ECE ICT PL Programme is increased teacher capability (with particular emphasis on ICT capability) that leads to transformation and the development of a community of practice; which, in turn, contributes to enhanced learning outcomes for children.

Author(s): Sue Cherrington, Lisa Oldridge and Vanessa Green with Carmen Dalli, Susan Davidson, Ali Glasgow, Sonja Rosewarne, Jayne White and Deborah Wansbrough, Victoria University of Wellington.

Date Published: March 2009

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads/Links' inset box, top right). This inset box also has links to related publications and information that may be of interest.  Please consider the environment before printing.

Executive Summary

The Early Childhood Education Information and Communication Technology Professional Learning Programme (ECE ICT PLP) is a three year pilot professional development programme established in 2006. The overarching goal of the ECE ICT PL Programme is increased teacher capability (with particular emphasis on ICT capability) that leads to transformation and the development of a community of practice; which, in turn, contributes to enhanced learning outcomes for children.

The goal leads to three outcomes for the ECE ICT PL Programme:

  1. increased ICT capability
  2. transformation of pedagogical practice (linked to ICT) that leads to an enhanced community of practice
  3. enhanced learning outcomes for children.
The purpose of the evaluation was to assess whether and how the design and implementation of the ECE ICT PL Programme was meeting the intended outcomes of the programme, midway through the pilot.

The evaluation focused on the following questions:

  1. Does the ECE ICT PL Programme design, content and implementation by services achieve the intended outcomes of the programme?
    1. How successful are clusters in achieving the programme outcomes?
    2. How useful is action research as a tool to accomplish the intended outcomes of the programme?
    3. Will the programme lead to sustainable and sound ICT pedagogy?
  2. To what extent are the ECE ICT PL Programme’s design, content and implementation by the services useful across all types of ECE services?
  3. What are the emerging barriers and enablers that may make the difference between successful and unsuccessful implementation and outcomes?

The evaluation methodology included a review of the literature; development of an evaluation matrix; document analysis of milestone reports; internet survey of participating teachers; telephone interviews with the provider national coordinator and facilitators; and development of a case study involving six participating services.

Does the ECE ICT PL programme design, content and implementation by services achieve the intended outcomes of the programme?

The ECE ICT PL programme is a complex mix of delivery components which the National Coordinator and facilitators deliver in a highly individualised and flexible manner. Participants in the programme have increased capability in terms of using ICT. Teachers are using ICT for a range of purposes. Teachers’ confidence in using ICT, both for personal use and for teaching and learning, has increased over the first half of the programme. There has been a substantial increase in teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and significant shifts in teachers’ use of ICT “with or by children” across a range of indicators. Changes in teacher attitudes towards the use of ICT in early childhood education, and about the level of access that children should have to ICT equipment are apparent.

Almost all participants have gained knowledge about cybersafety as a result of participating in the programme. Progress in adopting cybersafe practices has been variable, with management involvement in establishing and implementing cybersafety policies and practices a key factor in whether progress is made.

Teachers appear to avoid working with children on computers with preloaded educational software despite their presence in ECE centres indicating that teachers believe such software has a role to play in the ECE programme. It is important teachers develop the ICT skills and pedagogy necessary for the successful integration of these resources into the programme of learning and we suggest that the ECE ICT PL programme support teachers to be able to critique such software packages and to consider pedagogical practices that will support children where these are available in the service.

Participants are using ICTs to engage in reflective practice and to form links and collaborate with the community (both within and beyond the ECE service community. The use of ICT is supporting continuity for children between home and ECE service.

Teachers have increased the range of ICT that they are using or have started to use these in innovative ways to support their pedagogical practices. There is some evidence of evaluation and critique of the use of ICT within the programme but much of this occurs in an informal manner. There is room for further development of teachers’ abilities to engage in critique of ICTs over the final year of the programme.

The data around teachers’ perceptions of children’s equitable use of ICT equipment showed concerning patterns. This issue needs to be explored with participants during the remainder of the programme, and support given to services on how they might more actively gather data to identify trends and then develop effective strategies for responding to these trends.

The evaluation collected significant, rich examples that clearly demonstrate that children are highly capable and competent in using ICT equipment to support their learning and to communicate with others. Similarly, there were numerous examples of where children are actively taking on the role of expert with other children and with adults. These results show very positive trends (e.g., just how competent children can be in using a range of ICTs and the potential that ICTs have for fostering complexity in learning).

Children’s transitions into, within, and from the early childhood services have been strengthened through the use of ICT. Teachers in the programme are starting to advocate on ICT matters with their local schools and involve them with their ICT activities. Teachers report an increase in parental involvement in their children’s learning.

How successful are clusters in achieving the programme outcomes?

The clusters are an effective professional development model, in some contexts. Where services are able to easily come together for components such as workshops and hui, where facilitators are able to conduct the visit component flexibly to meet the service’s needs, and where there is a reasonable degree of homogeneity between the participating services, then the cluster model is effective in broadening teachers’ perspectives, providing support and networking opportunities, and developing communities of practice. However, where factors such as the geographical spread of services exist then the model is severely compromised and participant teachers do not enjoy the full benefits of an effective cluster group.

How useful is action research as a tool to accomplish the intended outcomes of the programme?

A mixed picture emerged from the data about the usefulness of action research as a tool to achieve the intended outcomes for the programme, at this stage of the programme’s implementation. A complex set of factors impact on the ability of teams to engage in and utilise action research in a meaningful and effective way. It is not the quality of professional development that is impacting on the rate of progress. Rather, the complexity of both the ECE ICT PL programme and its interface with factors external to the programme impacts on the degree to which action research is able to be a useful tool. Both services and teachers need to be robust in order to manage the demands of the programme within the current early childhood context of policy changes and sectoral development. ECE ICT PLP Evaluation Final Report 7

Will the programme lead to sustainable and sound ICT pedagogy?

The high staff turnover in services indicated through the provider surveys suggest that it will be challenging for individual services to sustain sound ICT pedagogical practices without robust strategic planning and induction processes in place. Lead Teachers are confident that their services will be able to maintain sound ICT practices after the completion of the programme but also identified the need for ongoing professional support to assist their service to sustain the progress that they make through the programme.

The development of service strategic plans has been a useful accountability device that has demanded commitment from both management and from teaching staff. However, issues around inadequate equipment; developing ongoing funding streams; and insurance costs for equipment will continue to impact on the sustainability of ICT pedagogy.

To what extent are the ECE ICT PL programme’s design, content and implementation by the services useful across all types of ECE services?

Aspects that impact on the usefulness of the ECE ICT PL programme across all ECE service types were identified. Most critically, being able to sustain momentum within this complex, intense programme requires a robust service and team committed to the programme and strong enough to cope with the intensity of the programme alongside the array of external factors that may potentially impact on the programme’s implementation in their service.

What are the emerging barriers and enablers that may make the difference between successful and unsuccessful implementation and outcomes?

The barriers most frequently identified by participants and facilitators are time, staff workloads, staffing changes, difficulties in accessing qualified relievers, and inadequate management support. The extremely high rate of staff turnover in participating services is very concerning. Several barriers reflect the specific nature of the programme – difficulties with old or unavailable equipment; accessing funding for equipment; lack of ICT skills and knowledge; the accountability requirements of the programme; no or limited internet access; lack of technical support; and, the environmental set up in the ECE services.

The governance and resourcing demands of services effectively using ICTs for both administrative and teaching purposes requires that management are “on board” in terms of developing and implementing policies and strategic planning, and that they are committed to the ongoing financial resourcing.

Overwhelmingly, the key programme enabler identified by participants was the assistance and motivation provided by their facilitator. The mix of other programme components enabled participants to find a match with their own preferred delivery modes. The higher level, and flexible use, of funding available for this programme was an important enabler.

A number of internal factors are also highlighted as enablers, highlighting the importance of robust, reflective teams who can sustain their own motivation. The identification of these enablers supports the suggestion that, if the programme were to be rolled out, that the model is an effective one for services with strong internal factors.


 Copyright © Education Counts 2014   |   Contact information.officer@minedu.govt.nz for enquiries.