ITTE Computing/Training Trainee Teachers

Although there are some fundamental similarities, training trainee teachers is radically different from teaching pupils in school. Consider the following:

School teaching Teacher trainingEdit

School teaching Teacher training
Teachers are expected to teach their subject(s), following the prescribed curriculum and / or syllabi. They may or may not be aware of the educational background to the approaches they use. Tutors are expected to teach their subject(s) and help their trainees develop effective teaching approaches founded on recognised and explicit educational theory, well researched practice, current initiatives and recent inspection evidence.
Teachers are not expected to reflect with pupils on the effectiveness of their own and others’ teaching approaches Tutors continually reflect with trainees on the effectiveness of their own and others’ teaching approaches
Teachers are accountable to parents Tutors are accountable to their trainees who evaluate their sessions and provide feedback
Pupils are children or adolescents Trainees are adults – many have recently studied university courses in specialised fields – some trainees are in their 50s with successful previous careers
The usual method of teaching is the lesson A range of teaching methods is used: lectures, demonstrations, seminars, presentations, discussions, tutorials, distance learning materials, practical workshops. You will be expected to model good practice.
Most pupils have little idea as to their career aspirations Trainees are focused on a specific goal. Some have changed career to become a teacher and have made considerable sacrifices to do so.
Learner/teacher relationships are founded on authority and respect Trainee / tutor relationships are founded on mutual respect and shared objectives.
The curriculum and / or syllabus is clearly defined The competences which trainees are expected to demonstrate are specified. The curriculum is multi-faceted as trainees may teach in a wide range of contexts.
Pupils are assessed on their knowledge, skills and understanding Trainees are assessed on their knowledge, skills, understanding of the subject, their ability to teach and their professionalism.
Pupils are assessed mostly through coursework and/or examination or tests Trainees are assessed through written or practical assignments, portfolios of evidence and assessments of practice
Pupils often rely on teachers to assess their progress and set targets Trainees are expected to reflect on their own progress to become autonomous learners – or 'reflective practitioners'
Schools are regularly inspected by OFSTED  HEIs and SCITTs are regularly inspected by OFSTED

To help you begin the process of shifting your perspective from the pupils to trainee teachers it might be helpful to consider your new role in relation to the learning triangle:

This model provides us with a means of examining the learning situation. The notion is that learning is successful when all three arms of the learning relationship represented by the triangle are in equilibrium. In terms of the relationship between you as a tutor and your trainees the following issues need to be examined:

Tutor-related issues:

  • Your subject knowledge
  • Your pedagogical knowledge and beliefs
  • Your teaching experience and ability

Task related issues:

  • The learning activities you use with trainees
  • The resources you use and/or prepare
  • The assessment methods used

Learner related issues:

  • Trainees' subject knowledge and experience
  • Trainees' attitudes and motivation
  • Trainees' intellectual ability
  • Trainees' knowledge and experience of teaching approaches

Tutor-related Issues

Your subject knowledgeEdit

As a teacher you may have been in the comfortable position of knowing more about ICT than most of your pupils. However, you will probably have already been in situations where some pupils were sufficiently motivated to become expert in particular fields of ICT – such as website development or games programming. As a teacher education tutor it is likely that most of your trainees will know more about at least one aspect of ICT than you. In some cases, those who have had previous careers may have highly specific knowledge of ICT applications in a work related setting. This can initially be very intimidating. However, it should be remembered that your role as an ICT teacher educator is to help the students appreciate that their role as an ICT teacher is to cover the full range of ICT knowledge, skills and understanding addressed by the various exam boards, curricula and syllabi which they are likely to encounter in schools. In effect, you act as a bridge between their highly focused experience and the reality of the classroom. Your subject knowledge is therefore not only related to an appreciation of the ICT curricula in their various forms, it is also related to ways of helping students discover ways of making this accessible for learners.

To enhance your knowledge of the content of various exam board syllabi and curricula go to the Exam Boards page on this site.

Your pedagogical knowledge and beliefsEdit

There are two aspects to this – your knowledge and beliefs about the most effective ways to educate pupils – and your knowledge and beliefs of how to train teachers.

If you have been a school-based mentor, you will probably have already had an opportunity to reflect on your own and others' classroom practices. You will probably have made explicit your views on teaching effectiveness and guided student teachers as they develop classroom management strategies. You will probably already have realised that the most effective approach is not one which attempts to clone your own teaching styles and approaches, but attempts to build on each trainee's personality, preferred teaching styles and past experience.

It is beyond the scope of this web resource to provide you with all the information, guidance and materials you will need to develop your capabilities as a teacher trainer. The following pointers and resources might prove useful however.

The principal purpose of a teacher education course is to enable the students to become independent, informed and effective classroom practitioners. The work of Donald Schon has had a profound effect on the training of teachers. His concepts of the 'reflective practitioner' and 'reflection-on/in-action' have guided the work of many researchers and educationists concerned with enhancing the quality of teaching effectiveness. (See: for more information).

What has proved useful to those engaged in teacher education has been to employ models and rubrics such as the learning triangle used in this section to help their students analyse the factors underlying the effectiveness of their own and others' teaching.

For further information and advice on approaches to teacher education, see:

Fish, D. (1995) Quality Learning for Student Teachers: University Tutors' Educational Practices, London, David Fulton – see particularly Chapter 9 which focuses on ways of engaging students in practical discourse.

See also:

Cowan, J. (1998) On Becoming an Innovative University Teacher: Reflection in Action, Buckingham, SRHE & Open University Press – see particularly Chapter 4 for other models of reflective practice

Your teaching experience and abilityEdit

As a newly appointed tutor, you will have your past career to draw upon, but very quickly you will form working relationships with teachers in the schools which are in partnership with your training institution. Although the schools may be teaching the same curricula and syllabi, you will find a range of different approaches and philosophies being adopted. What you may find useful is to identify school-based colleagues who are employing interesting or innovative approaches and arrange visits to enable all your trainees to engage in a shared experience. Furthermore, you will find it very useful to make contacts with and visit colleagues in similar institutions. This can best be achieved by joining a professional association such as ITTE (The Association for IT in Teacher Education) or Naace. Participating in the discussion forums and attending conferences organised by these bodies will help with networking and sharing in experiences with colleagues in a similar situation to yourself.

See the section of this website for further information on professional bodies and other sources of information relevant to ICT and teacher education.

Task-related IssuesEdit

Learning activities appropriate for ICT teacher educationEdit

Teaching in school is not the same as teaching in Higher Education. It is likely that the majority of students who participate in an ICT teacher training course will have studied at university and so have an expectation as to how they will be taught in their PGCE course. It may be several years since you studied at university and as a student you may not have been aware of the different teaching approaches to which you were subjected. This section provides you with an overview of various types of activities which you could employ – with particular reference to ICT education.

a) Teaching approachesEdit

Lecture– the traditional stand-up lecture is probably the approach you will use least. The numbers of students you will be teaching, the relationships you will aim to develop with your students and also the content matter of your work do not lend themselves to this mode of delivery.

Tutorial– group tutorials will probably feature strongly in your range of approaches. These can vary in delivery but will often comprise some input from you followed by discussion. As the course progresses, you will increasingly draw upon your students' experiences as starting points for discussions. Individual tutorials will also form part of your armoury – particularly when you need to address particular aspects of a student's progress arising, say, from their school placement(s).

Seminar– small groups, pairs or individual students prepare and present information on a given topic to the rest of the group. This is a useful means of enabling students with particular expertise to share their knowledge and experiences with the group. It also provides you and the students with an opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of aspects of others' teaching approaches, such as the use of resources and the clarity of explanations.

Demonstrations– these can take two forms – one in which you (or a student or colleague) demonstrates the use of a piece of software or piece of equipment – and the other in which you (or a colleague or student) demonstrates a teaching technique. Tutors in some training institutions teach model lessons which the students are required to replicate for analysis by their fellow students.

Workshops– hands-on activities enabling the students to develop their own skills in the use of ICT resources – or to practise their teaching skills.

Directed task / activity– students are given clear directions as to what they are required to do. These tasks can be set as 'homework' tasks to be prepared prior to a forthcoming session, or can assigned via distance learning materials such as a Virtual Learning Environment (see below). You may decide to set your students a specific task to be carried out during their school placement (e.g. logging particular classroom incidents, or gathering examples of pupils' work for later in-depth analysis).

Distance / online learning– most HEIs have invested in virtual learning environments (VLEs) or managed learning environments (MLEs) which enable tutors to place learning materials online for students. These resources have great advantages for teacher training courses as students are required to spend a large proportion of their time in school. At their most basic level, VLEs can be used to place information and copies of the tutor's lecture notes online for students to access. At their most sophisticated, the discussion boards and interactive tools can be used imaginatively to enable students to build a shared understanding of their role as an emergent teacher.

b) Effective group workEdit

The most effective approaches to learning and teaching in Higher Education sessions involve some form of groupwork. Various strategies are suggested, some of which may be familiar to your work as a teacher, but others are more specific to Higher Education where there is an expectation that students will be more autonomous.

Buzz groups - A topic is introduced by the tutor with questions on key aspects (e.g. How would you deal with….). Students break into groups to discuss their response to the question(s). A nominee from each group feeds back the thoughts of the group to the rest of the class.

Snowball - Tutor asks a question, students write their own thoughts and ideas. They then share their thoughts in pairs or threes. The pairs/threes then combine into larger groups and reach a consensus. The tutor then asks the groups for their responses.

Brainstorm - Whole class brainstorms ideas focused on a theme (e.g. classroom control). The ideas are written on board by tutor. Groups work together to categorise the ideas into common themes.

Case study - A case study of a classroom situation is distributed. Students work in groups to reflect on the significance of the situation (e.g. what should the teacher do next). Ideas are then shared with the rest of the class.

Peer explaining - Groups are given different pieces of information (or research the information themselves) and are expected to summarise the information into a five minute explanation for the rest of the class.

Flowcharting - As above, but each group produces a flow chart or diagram to summarise a process (e.g. teaching a new topic through a series of activities).

Peer teaching - A leader is asked to prepare to teach the others in the group a new skill, technique or piece of knowledge. Not only does this reinforce the leader's understanding of the topic (and provide the others with focused input), it helps the students practise and evaluate teaching skills.

Jig-saw - A topic is divided into, say, four sub-topics – or four differing viewpoints are given of a topic. Students are divided into four groups – each member of the group is assigned a letter. Each group studies one of the sub-topics to reach a common understanding. New groups are formed, using the letters (i.e. all the As, all the Bs, etc. together) so that each new group now includes one person from each of the previous groups. The representative from each of the previous groups must now teach their topic to the others in the group. The educational background to these activities and more are described in the following texts:

Biggs, J (1999) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, Buckingham, SRHE & Open University Press – see particularly Chapter 5 for suggestions on how to organise sessions to support active learning

Petty, G. (1998) Teaching Today: A Practical Guide, Cheltenham, Nelson Thornes – Part 2 provides a comprehensive overview of interactive approaches to learning and teaching appropriate for the HEI and school classroom

Geoff Petty's website – – includes information and downloadable resources related to active learning and teaching (eg 25 ways to teach without talking)

c) ResourcesEdit

The resources needed for your new job as an ICT teacher education tutor are dependent largely on whether you are joining an established course or you are setting up a new course.

One would hope that if you are taking over or joining a course which has been running for several years most of the resources will already have been acquired. This will include not only the software and hardware needed for the subject teaching, but also the handouts and web-based resources required for the pedagogical aspects. However, you will undoubtedly find it necessary to review the existing materials to familiarise yourself with what is already available and to decide what needs replacing, improving or to identify what is missing.

If you are setting up a brand new course (or revamping an existing programme), you will clearly have a much bigger job on your hands. Whilst there is no single definitive strategy which will guarantee success you might find the following useful in planning and preparing for your first cohort of students:

  1. Refer to the Standards for QTS, interpreting them in relation to your subject and your trainees
  2. Find out how the course is structured – who covers what and when
  3. Decide on the content for subject knowledge sessions, using the syllabi and curricular documentation relevant to the schools in which your students will be placed as a starting point
  4. Clarify the number and length of sessions available to you as a subject tutor
  5. Check on the hardware and software which is currently available – find out the procedures for placing orders for anything which is missing
  6. Check on the availability of hardware resources and ensure all planned workshop sessions are booked into the institution's timetabling system
  7. Check on the assessment arrangements for your sections of the course – clarify the focus for any assessment tasks under your control
  8. Plan in outline the sessions – ensuring you cover aspects of learning and teaching as well as ICT subject knowledge
  9. Find out (if possible) the background experiences of your intended cohort
  10. Prepare support materials for the students

For more information on supporting students refer to the Delivering high quality training section of this website.

d) Assessment methodsEdit

There is a tendency to assume that assessment is what happens at the end of the course when the students demonstrate that they have or have not met the Standards. Whilst summative assessment is significant for any programme, formative, diagnostic and self-referenced assessment is essential for the progressive development of a student teacher's competency.

i) AuditsEdit

Probably, the most important form of assessment for you as a new tutor is the initial audit of the students' experiences and skills. These audits are designed to inform you about the levels of experience of individuals and common needs of the cohort and to raise the students' awareness of what is intended to be covered in the course. Audits or tests of ICT knowledge and understanding can be administered through questionnaires or checklists which can be delivered online. ICT skills and experience can be also audited but the questions will have to be carefully framed to enable the students to respond objectively. For example, asking a student to rate the extent of their knowledge of database design on a five point scale will yield highly unreliable results – those who know little might assume they are quite competent, whereas those who have completed a course in database design might realise they have only scratched the surface. Better to provide statements about their use of databases which they can select as being most applicable – e.g. "I have created a simple relational database".

Examples of online audits:

  • NGfL ICT audit for teachers
  • The ITTE audit (with details as to where you can acquire it
  • Newcastle upon Tyne University ICT audit

Audits of this sort cannot be regarded as 'assessments'. They do not objectively test the students' knowledge, skills and understanding but provide you with self-reported information about their experiences. See also Auditing ICT Skills and also a critique of audits

ii) Other forms of assessmentEdit

Further information about the assessment of trainees and teaching them about assessment in schools can be found in the assessment section of this website.

Learner-related issuesEdit

As teacher educators we have two sets of learners to deal with – your trainee teachers and the pupils they teach. This page focuses primarily on the trainees and your relationship with them.

Trainees' subject knowledge and experienceEdit

In the task-related issues section we note the importance of discovering the trainees' levels of subject knowledge when they join the course – by means of an audit. This section focuses on the range of background experiences which your trainees may have before joining the course.

The majority of those joining PGCE courses will have recently completed an undergraduate course associated with ICT. However, these courses are extremely diverse. Some may have followed single honours courses and hence will have an in-depth knowledge of a range of ICT topics. Their subject knowledge is likely to be quite deep and broad, but there will inevitably be some aspects of the National, GCSE, A Level or GNVQ curriculum with which they lack confidence.

A number of trainees will have followed combined honours courses, which will have provided them with a range of different experiences with ICT. Some will have focused on web-based technologies, whilst others may have concentrated on aspects of ICT related to business. The subject knowledge of these trainees will inevitably be less secure and less broad. There will be insufficient time during the course for you to cover all areas of the ICT curriculum in sufficient depth and hence the usefulness of the initial audit. You will also find it worthwhile to accumulate and/or develop a range of self study materials to support the development of trainees' subject knowledge. Fortunately, the range of paper- and computer-based study materials for secondary school courses is extensive. See task-related issues section for more information.

There will inevitably be trainees who have decided to change their careers and join the course with experience from commerce, the computer industry or business. They might have highly specialised knowledge but will probably lack the breadth of experience of recent graduates. Often, those changing career are highly committed and willing to put considerable effort into meeting the requirements of the course. Self study materials are of particular value to them.

Trainees' attitudes and motivationEdit

It is to be hoped that those joining a teacher training programme are committed and enthusiastic. However, PGCE, GTP and RTP courses are very intensive and trainees are often placed under considerable pressure to meet the requirements within the limited timescale. As a tutor, you may have little influence over your trainees' attitudes towards teaching but you might have opportunities to affect their levels of motivation as the course progresses. In addition to contributing to the trainees' levels of confidence by providing them with ideas, information, frameworks and resources; making yourself available for tutorials, either face to face or via email or video conferencing, can have an important influence on trainees' motivation and willingness to 'stay the course'.

At times, you will be called into school by mentors who are concerned about a trainees' progress or have anxieties over their professionalism. Trainees' professional attributes form part of the Standards for QTS and hence are assessed. It is part of your responsibilities as a teacher educator to ensure that trainees not only appreciate what is expected of a teacher, but provide good role models for their pupils. Clearly, these issues need to be addressed with sensitivity and tact.

Trainees' knowledge of teaching approachesEdit

Although some trainees may commence their ITT courses with some background experience of teaching it is likely that the majority will have limited or little first hand knowledge of what it is to be a teacher. It is therefore your responsibility to introduce them to the finer principles of learning and teaching. You will, of course, have your own experience as a teacher on which to draw but there is an expectation that you will provide trainees with a pedagogical framework which will enable them to structure their approaches to learning and teaching. Although ICT education is a relatively recent curriculum subject, considerable research has been conducted into the educational bases for ICT education. The following provides an overview of the key educational principles related to current classroom practice:

i) ConstructivismEdit

The key theory underpinning most educational practice in school today

Probably the most comprehensive website on constructivism -

The funderstanding website (don't be put off by the name) -

Essays on constructivism and learning -

An outline of the relationship between social constructivism and ICT - m

A useful article on the pedagogy of new technologies: with reference to constructivism:

ii) Other learning theoriesEdit

It is beyond the scope of this website to provide you with an overview of all the leading educational theories and theorists associated with learning and teaching in higher education. However, these links and references will provide you with information should you wish to investigate this aspect further:

The Higher Education Academy

Escalate - the section of the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) focusing on education

The Funderstanding website (Major theories in a nutshell)

Staffordshire University's Centre for IT in Teaching and Learning - links to websites on ICT pedagogy

The TeAch-nology website (Overviews of leading educational theories and practice)

The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education (useful articles and overviews)

The DeLiberations website (Research and articles on learning and teaching in HE)

Engagement Theory (an interesting article about the role of technology in supporting learning)

See also the section on Teaching and Learning and the section on research into ICT pedagogy