Only if teachers are trained and acquire experience using learning technologies they will be likely to succeed using those technologies in their own classes. This is one of the main observations contained in the article “Teach the Teachers” written by Edinger, Reimer and van der Vlies (2013). The conclusion is that teachers need training and coaching in order to master the use of learning technology. The article, although a bit restrictive in scope, provides solid data and the reasoning is coherent.
The article is based upon two studies developed in the School of Teacher Education of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The first study consists of three focus groups, an online survey and pilot studies of educational scenarios. The second is comprised of a pair of events -a workshop and a kickoff- and another online survey. For the first study, the topic is social media in educational scenarios, while for the second it is the requirements for the professional use of social media in higher education.
The three focus groups in the first study, and the workshop in the second study, leads the authors to the realization that “students as well as lecturers are always chasing something” (p. 2). On the teachers’ side, they chase “new technologies that they can use when they teach” (p. 2). Furthermore, this requires a training that will only succeed if “it meets the demands of the target audience. However, the target audience of lecturers is very heterogeneous” (p. 3). The article goes on explaining another conclusion: such training faces a dual challenge. “New tools have to be learned and at the same time the lecturers also need to find out how they can integrate the associated teaching and learning materials didactically” (p. 3).
In addition, affinity for media and university didactics are measured with several indicators, and then, they are contrasted. A relevant 85% of the teachers are likely to use technology in their class if receiving some instruction on such technology. This clearly shows to what extent “further education has great potential” (p. 3). At this point, however, it must be pointed out that neither the authors nor the publisher have taken enough care as the figure shown does not correspond to the data description.
After stating the necessity of teaching the teachers and other related findings, the article concludes with a proposal: an “institutional offer of training and coaching” to lecturers (p. 4). Then it adds some brushstrokes that outline how this support should be provided: it “should be on-demand”, and “it is crucial that it meets the needs of the lecturers” (p. 4).
The reader may infer that such a study should lead us to a wider conclusion. In particular, the necessity of providing teachers experienced in the use of learning technologies seems to be clear. Therefore, universities and institutes of education must make serious efforts to teach future teachers to use this sort of technology, so that in the near future, teachers know how to effectively use learning technology in their classes.