Initial Teacher Education (ITE) institutes across Scotland play a central and formative role in the early career development of prospective teachers. It is in Initial Teacher Education where student teachers begin to “form habits of the mind, habits of the heart, and habits of the hand” (Shulman 2005, p. 59). This formative experience requires that the initial teacher education experience be one that is informed and influenced by integral partnerships between ITE providers, Scottish Government, the General Teaching Council of Scotland, local authorities and schools across the country. To this end, the National Framework for Digital Literacies in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) aims to detail how staff and students in ITE can support the Scottish Government’s aims and aspirations to:
- develop the necessary skills, behaviours and dispositions of prospective teachers to become effective practitioners with digital tools and spaces;
- address the digital literacies expectations of the Standards for Provisional Registration as maintained by the GTCS;
- ensure that digital literacies are embedded in the foundation skillsets of early career teachers as they begin teaching.
Digital literacies and the digital tools and spaces that are available have become increasingly relevant to teaching and teacher education in contemporary times. The past two decades have seen the rise of digital tools and spaces to the extent that their ubiquitous presence permeates so much of modern life both within and outside of school. In education we have seen the advent of multimedia authoring (e.g. digital movie making, web design, and animation), web 2.0, cloud computing, shared document authoring, virtual and augmented reality, coding and social media tools being used in our schools. However, there is a commonly held assertion that “despite the pervasive nature of digital technology, its benefits are not always fully felt within our education establishments.” (Scottish Government, 2016, p.3).
The Scottish Council of Deans of Education (SCDE), along with the support of Scottish Government, set up a working group with representatives from all the providers involved with ITE to develop ‘The National Framework for Digital Literacies in Initial Teacher Education’. Although it was very likely that there may have been different, yet wholly valid, versions of the ITE digital experience across the institutions, an agreed Framework could offer a consistent perspective and sharper focus in addressing “expectations that ITE providers instil the benefits of using digital technology to enhance learning and teaching in their students, in line with GTCS Standards for Registration” (Scottish Government, 2016, p.4). This will eventually lead to better learning outcomes for ITE students and the pupils they will teach during their probationary year and beyond, when they will then engage with the other Professional Standards related to their stage of professional development.
The National Framework for Digital Literacies in ITE is designed to meet the Scottish Government’s vision of a relevant, ambitious and forward-looking framing of digital learning across ITE programmes (Scottish Government, 2016). It also seeks to acknowledge and actively promote the critical exploration of research informed pedagogy, the promise of the transformational effect of digital learning and how the everyday use of commercial and freely available digital products can implicitly impact on understanding and practice. It also aims to play its part in establishing the professional expectation of engagement with career-long professional learning in the digital learning and teaching domain for Scottish teachers.
Scottish Government (2016). Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through the Use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/9494/0 (Accessed on 20th November 2018).
Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), pp. 52–59.